14 May 2009

Samurai Kids Book 3: Shaolin Tiger

by Sandy Fussell

Walker Books. Australian, Junior, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $14.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

This third book in the Samurai Kids Series stands alone. It is not necessary to read Books One and Two to follow the storyline. Five teenage Samurai students accompany their Sensei (teacher) to China to help him protect a Temple that is under threat there. These students are special. Each has something missing: an arm, a leg, sight, the will to fight. Each learns how to compensate for their difference. The journey is perilous. Danger lurks in many places and it is difficult to know who can be trusted. Nothing is ever really as it seems. Even the apparent drowning of an important character shimmers with possibilities.

Under the guise of a simple action-adventure story, many intricate layers await discovery. The text sketches an outline for things you see, while what is not directly said, holds deeper secrets. Mythical creatures breathe and move beneath the surface. Sensei casually offers little phrases of wisdom that draw the reader ever deeper into awareness of the invisible.

Just as Sandy Fussell weaves many layers into her text, she also hints at the shades existing between right and wrong, obedience and disobedience, reality and fantasy. This is perfect for those entering the world of adolescence, where the boundaries between black and white cease to exist. Wherever the Samurai kids travel, they are urged to look beyond what they see and use their other senses, but if they are not ready for the hidden message, nothing is lost.

My daughter huffed in irritation. ‘There are two or three meanings to every sentence!’ but she kept reading. The need to know what will happen is strong. Although it was difficult to find a place to stop, I preferred reading one chapter per sitting. There was just too much to absorb.

The lessons on every page can be learned only if you find them. Clues are delivered through action and adventure scenes, and sprinkled with a generous helping of humour.

Shaolin Tiger is irresistible and likely to be re-read many times.



  1. Thanks. Although I didn't write this review I must say that I think the Samurai Kid Series are a great read. Can't wait for the next one... They are books that I take time out to read for my own personal enjoyment.
    Barbara, editor