The Perfect Sword
Grade 3-5-Told from the perspective of young Michio, a master swordsmith’s apprentice, The Perfect Sword is a moral tale about the virtues that make a person worthy of something perfect. After Michio and his Sensei create the perfect sword (or, at least, as close to perfect as can exist), they interview many samurai, warriors, and nobles who want to possess it. But many are too selfish, or too privileged, or too cruel; it is only when they meet a samurai who is kind and selfless and dedicated to bettering himself that they find the proper owner. Goto inserts his readers directly into late-1500s Japan, giving them a feel for the culture and history. His vibrant oil paintings are detailed enough to keep readers poring over them, but large enough for group sharing. This book is sure to attract browsers with its excellent illustrations and hold readers with its simple story, beautifully told. (Amazon.com)
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The Perfect Sword
The Perfect Sword is a children's book from Japan. The story introduces Sensei (a master sword maker) and his apprentice Michio. As the story begins, we are introduced to the two main characters Sensei and Michio who are working on creating the best sword. Sensei is known far and wide for creating razor sharp blades with tremendous attention to details. Once the sword is complete, Sensei explains that the hard part is next. Finding the perfect owner for this sword. Michio believes it won't be hard because his swords are know by all to be the best of the best.
Word spreads throughout the town. We are introduced to Katsuo who is a strong but cruel warrior. Sensei explains that this sword is not made for someone so cruel. Next to visit is Lord Toda. He is a noble who has hundreds of servants and warriors that do everything for him. Sensei explains that Lord Toda has never earned anything on his own and this sword is not for him. The next character we meet is Kenshin. He is a calm warrior with much skill. He is dedicated but very selfish. Someone who does not care for others should not have this sword Sensei explains to Michio.
The sword makers decide to take a break and go to the local marketplace. During the visit, a thief steals from a vendor. Suddenly a young small samurai blocks the thief's path. Although he has two knives to fight the thief, the young samurai doesn't use them and was still able to defeat the thief. The vendor offers a reward. The young samurai explained that he should not be rewarded for doing what is right.
Sensei and Michio invite the young samurai to their home. The young man's name is Takeshi. He has very nice manners and shows respect to Sensei. When asked why he did not use his swords today, Takesi responds that if you hurt someone needlessly, that is an act of weakness. He would dishonor his sword if he used it in the wrong manner. Takesi is very humble and kind to help someone he didn't even know.
Because of Takesi good character, Sensei honors him with the sword. Takesi is honored and uses the sword to help him grow as a warrior and as a person.
The story ends with Sensei and Michio returning to work and forging the next perfect sword.
I really enjoyed the story and the illustrations. I would use this story from Kindergarten to 4th grade. Focusing on different themes for each grade. Most students wlil benefit from the lesson: You don't have to be the biggest, best or strongest. To succeed, you need to be kind, fair and humble. An additional good message from the story was when Takesi says, " One should never be rewarded for doing what is right". This could create a great topic and lesson in the classroom.