Blue Fingers: A Ninja's Tale by Cheryl Aylward Whitesel

Blue Fingers: A Ninja's Tale by Cheryl Aylward Whitesel Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper to create new forms and structures, most commonly resembling animals.  It is a craft that I sometimes teach during our Manga Club, STEAM Team and Art Attack programs here at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, and it reflects how much I love Japanese culture.  Another example of Japanese culture is from the various books we have in the library’s collection, from our selection of manga titles to other interesting books.  One of those books, which delves into the real lives of ninja and samurai in feudal Japan, is Blue Fingers: A Ninja’s Tale by Cheryl Aylward Whitesel.  Read my summary and review below and see if it’s the book you want to choose after you finish reading the latest volume of One Piece or Naruto. 
Koji is living with his mother, father and twin brother Taro in feudal Japan in the 1540s.  Twins are considered unlucky in Japan, and Koji always lives in the shadow of his better brother.  When Taro is offered an apprenticeship with a dye maker, their parents inexplicably send Koji in his place.  Koji bungles things badly, and while running away from the dye maker back home, he is kidnapped by a ninja and taken to the home of his clan.  There, he is given a choice: join them or die.  Koji grows strong from his training, but misses his family.  He also learns of the true evil of the warlord samurai and how the ninja fight them to save the common people.  It will be up to Koji, Taro and all of the ninjas to save their valley home when a dangerous new weapon may give the samurai the ultimate power.   
This is a very well-written tale. It starts off slow, but it gets very good as Koji builds up confidence.  His confidence grows with his ninja training and as he goes on missions, which demonstrate ninja skills and tricks with great detail. The character development makes this a superb tale of perseverance and persistence.  The historical information given at the end of the book also gives it educational value and really helps to clarify some of the murkier points of the book.  This book is a great multicultural and historical read. 
Blue Fingers is recommended for early teen readers.  Check it out at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library or your local DC Public Library branch today. 
--by Brandon Digwood