Scieszka, Jon. Sam Samurai. Illustrated by Adam McCauley. Viking, 2001. ISBN 0670899151. $14.99. 85 pp. A 3-6 FI Reviewed by Keith R. Westover In this, the tenth appearance of the Time Warp Trio, our intrepid travelers find themselves trapped in medieval Japan during the time when the samurai flourished. Joe, Sam, and Fred continue to be transported unexpectedly in time by the magic book Joe’s uncle gave him for his birthday. Once again, the trio is unsure exactly how or why this phenomenon occurs, although this time it has something to do with their recital of Japanese haiku, which they had been working on as a school assignment. Again they are exasperated because they must find the magic book in order to warp home before their motor mouths and raucous behavior do them in, but the book disappears when they reach their destination. The Time Warp Trio books are each informative and instructive in their own way. In this adventure, our heroes learn about the history and culture of medieval Japan, including the history of haiku poetry. This book can be read on its own without first reading the other adventures, but the lore of the missing, magic book accumulates with each episode, so it is beneficial for the reader to read the entire series in approximate order. As with the other Time Warp stories, there is a cliffhanger, which is resolved when the boys are unexpectedly rescued at the very last possible second. It reminds one of an old Flash Gordon episode, or perhaps more appropriately Dr. Who, which has not only a similar cliffhanger aspect, but also contains time travel and “auto-translation” (i.e., everyone seems to speak English regardless of time or place). This is the second in the series that is illustrated by McCauley. The first eight were illustrated by Lane Smith. Another fun read from Scieszka.
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