Sam samurai, p.1
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       Sam Samurai, p.1

           Jon Scieszka
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Sam Samurai

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page
















  “Look out, Fred!” yelled Sam. “He’s going for his sword!”

  I dove for the samurai’s feet and smacked my head on his shin guards. The samurai fell toward Fred. Fred grabbed the spear. He spun around to face the samurai, and as he turned he swung the spear with him. The samurai lunged. The blade of the spear caught the samurai just under the chin and sliced his head right off his shoulders.

  The armored body part crashed to the floor. The helmeted head rolled and rolled and came to rest next to the fire pit. The red-lipped black faceplate stared at us in the light of the dying fire.

  Sam and I stood up. Fred looked at the blade of the spear.



  #1: Knights of the Kitchen Table

  #2: The Not-So-Jolly Roger

  #3: The Good, the Bad, and the Goofy

  #4: Your Mother Was a Neanderthal

  #5: 2 095

  #6: Tut, Tut

  #7: Summer Reading Is Killing Me!

  #8: It’s All Greek to Me

  #9: See You Later, Gladiator

  #10: Sam Samurai

  #11: Hey Kid, Want to Buy a Bridge?

  #12: Viking It and Liking It

  #13: Me Oh Maya

  #14: Da Wild, Da Crazy, Da Vinci


  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell,

  Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

  Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre,

  Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310,

  New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,

  Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

  First published in the United States of America by Viking,

  a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2001

  Published by Puffin Books, 2002

  This edition published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006

  Text copyright © Jon Scieszka, 2001

  Illustrations copyright © Penguin Putnam Inc., 2001

  Illustrations by Adam McCauley

  All rights reserved


  Scieszka, Jon.

  Sam Samurai / by Jon Scieszka ; illustrated by Adam McCauley.

  p. cm.—(The time warp trio)

  Summary: Joe, Fred, and Sam are transported to seventeenth century Japan where they in

  furiate a Samurai warrior, encounter their great-granddaughters, and save their lives by

  reciting an ancient form of poetry.

  eISBN : 978-1-101-07777-1

  The Time Warp Trio ® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any

  responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  To Donna—

  a real samurai shuutome



  For Tim-san-




  Sam stood frozen in his ready karate pose. He spoke in a low voice.

  “Do not move an inch.

  If we’re where I think we are,

  We are dead meat.“

  “What are you talking about?” said Fred loudly. “So we’re probably in Japan. I’ll bet we can get some great noodles and sushi.”

  I wasn’t sure exactly where Sam thought we were, but I knew we weren’t in Sam’s house anymore. Fred, Sam, and I were standing on a low wooden platform that covered most of a small dirt floor room. A flickering fire burned in a rectangular pit cut into the side of the platform near the dirt floor. A metal teapot hung over the fire from a long hook in the ceiling. In the jumpy light I could just make out a few mats around the fire pit. There were no chairs, no tables, no beds.

  I whispered to Sam and Fred as I looked around the room, “It sure looks like Japan, but I think we are okay because there aren’t any samur—aaiiiiieeee!”

  A crazy, wild scream exploded out of me. All three of us jumped against the wall, because there in the farthest, darkest corner of the room, looking just like the guy in the picture Sam had shown us, sat a samurai warrior in full battle gear.

  Layers of shiny black and red strips of armor covered his shoulders. A breastplate and skirt kind of thing of the same strips tied with gold cords covered his chest and lower body. He wore black leather and chain arm covers, padded shin guards and foot covers, and a wild gold-horned black helmet sprouting side flaps. A thin gold sliver shaped like a new moon topped everything off.

  He sat motionless in the corner, staring at us like we were rats in a trap.

  “Oh ... my ... ga-ga-gosh,” gasped Sam. “I told you this is what would happen.”

  Even Fred, who is pretty hard to rattle, sucked in a nervous breath.

  I quickly bowed my most serious bow like I had seen in Sam’s samurai movies. “Gee Mr. Samurai guy, we are very sorry for time warping into your house like this. All we have to do is find our Book and then we’ll be on our way. Okay?”

  The samurai stared back at us, motionless.

  “Fine? Is good? Hola? Si?”

  The samurai stared back at us, motionless.

  “Oh great,” I said. “I think something’s wrong with the Auto-Translator. He’s not getting a word I say. Sam, you know some Japanese words. Get up here and use them.”

  “No way,” said Sam, edging behind Fred. “I said I learned a few words. I didn’t say I learned how to. beg a fully armed samurai warrior not to slice off our heads with his razor-sharp sword.”

  Fred pushed Sam forward. “Well just say whatever you’ve got—hello, sorry, see ya. I don’t think we want to mess with this guy.”

  Light glinted off the samurai’s red-lipped black metal faceplate. Sam inched forward.

  “Um ... well... konichiwa, samurai. My friends and I—Joe-san, Fred-san, Sam-san—are so sorry ... um, so zannen ... for coming into your house.”

  A stick fell in the fire and shot up a blaze of light. The samurai seemed to look down at Sam’s feet and frown. Sam looked down at his sneakers.

  “Oh no.” He turned to us. “Quick, take your shoes off and throw them over there on the dirt part of the room.”

  “What?” said Fred. “He doesn’t like the smell of our sneakers? This guy is starting to sound like my mom.”

  “No,” said Sam. “It’s terribly impolite to ever wear your shoes in anyone’s home in Japan. He could cut our heads off for such an ins

  “He’s definitely starting to sound like my mom,” I said.

  But it didn’t seem worth it to lose our head over shoes, so we slipped them off and tossed them over onto the dirt floor. Sam bowed. Fred and I bowed along with him.

  “Sooo sorry. So sorry,” said Sam. “We are sorry, very sorry, I can’t tell you how sorry, so please-don’ t-do-anything-with-your-sword-there-because-we-were-wearing-shoes-inside-your-house-and-we- are-stupid-heads sorry.”

  “Hey, speak for yourself,” said Fred.

  The fire blazed up again. The samurai in the shadows seemed to look down again.

  “Oh right,” said Sam. “We’re supposed to kneel down in front of him because he is a samurai.” Sam knelt down. Fred and I copied him.

  The samurai stared at us and said nothing. Seconds drifted by. No one said anything. We looked at him. He looked at us. Seconds turned into minutes. No one said anything.

  “I think he’s testing us,” Sam half whispered out of one side of his mouth.

  “Well, I think I’ve had about enough testing,” said Fred. “Tell him it’s been real, it’s been nice, but we’ve got a Book to catch.”

  “Patience,” whispered Sam. “Samurai are impressed by patience and control.”

  “Maybe we can patiently back out of here,” I said. “My knees are killing me.”

  “Please don’t use that k-word,” whispered Sam.

  “Hey, check it out,” said Fred. He nodded toward the wall closest to us. Three long spear poles with machete-style blades at the ends leaned against the wall.

  “Those are closer to us than they are to him,” said Fred. “There are three of us and only one of him.”

  Sam turned completely ghost white. “No, no, no. Don’t you remember Blade of Lightning? Samurai are fast enough to take on ten guys with spears and swords.”

  It was too late. I could tell Fred had already made up his mind. He got up slowly, pretending to stretch his legs.

  “Oh, that’s it. Just needed to stretch the old—”

  Then it all happened in a second. Fred jumped for the machete-spear weapon. His shadow flashed across the samurai.

  “Look out Fred!” yelled Sam. “He’s going for his sword!”

  I dove for the samurai’s feet and smacked my head on his shin guards. The samurai fell toward Fred. Fred grabbed the spear. He spun around to face the samurai, and as he turned he swung the spear with him. The samurai lunged. The blade of the spear caught the samurai just under the chin and sliced his head right off his shoulders.

  The armored body part crashed to the floor. The helmeted head rolled and rolled and came to rest next to the fire pit. The red-lipped black faceplate stared at us in the light of the dying fire.

  Sam and I stood up. Fred looked at the blade of the spear.



  First of all, I want you to know that Fred and Sam and I are very sorry for any trouble we might have accidentally caused in the universe by slicing off someone’s head five hundred years before we were born.

  Maybe one of your ancestors got turned into a monkey or a pig because of Fred’s spear chop. Maybe you are a monkey or a pig because of Fred’s spear chop. I don’t know. We’re not exactly sure what happens when someone messes with the past like we sometimes do. But we are working on it. And we are sorry. So ... well ... sorry, or “eee eee,” or “oink oink.”

  Secondly, before we lose our own heads for being so impolite, for wearing shoes indoors, for moving a guy’s head closer to the fire, I’d like to try to explain how we got into this latest Time Warp jam.

  If you are still reading this, and haven’t stomped off to go yell at the bookstore owner or teacher or librarian who would let children read such terrible things, you probably already know this is all because of a book. The Book. A dark blue book covered with strange silver writing and signs.

  I got The Book as a birthday present from my Uncle Joe. He’s kind of a magician. Oh, and did I mention that The Book can send its readers anywhere in time and space? Did I mention that the only way to return to the present is to find The Book in that past or future time? Did I mention that The Book always disappears no matter what we do and leaves us stranded when we Time Warp? Did I mention this is beginning to drive me crazy!!??


  I guess I just get a little annoyed because Fred and Sam and I are having a hard time making this time warping thing work when even our own great-granddaughters, who are girls, and a hundred years younger than us, can figure it out and—

  I’m screaming again. Sorry. This messing around with time gets very complicated. Here, why don’t I just tell you what happened. Maybe you can figure it out. If you do, send me a postcard, and we’ll be happy to try your idea for hanging on to The Book. If you don’t have any bright ideas (or are still yelling at the bookstore owner, teacher, or librarian), save your stamp.

  We were over at Sam’s house, working on our homework.

  “Write three different examples of haiku,” Sam read from the assignment sheet. “Use the form five syllables for the first line, seven syllables for the second line, and five syllables for the last line. Remember the examples we studied in class.”

  “Oh man,” said Fred. “I can’t believe it. This is such a goofball thing. Writing poetry.”

  Sam squinted at Fred and adjusted his glasses like he does when he’s thinking. “Two more and you’re done.”

  Fred pushed his Yomiuri Giants hat back on his head. “What?”

  “You’ve got your first haiku,” said Sam.

  “I can’t believe it.

  This is such a goofball thing.

  Writing poetry.”

  “Wow,” said Fred. “I’m a natural.” He pulled out a half-ripped piece of paper and started writing it down.

  “Fred, I was kidding. Hand that in to Ms. Basho, and she will freak out.” Sam squinted again. “Though that’s a pretty decent haiku, too.

  “Fred, I was kidding.

  Hand that in to Ms. Basho,

  And she will freak out.”

  “Come on, guys. Let’s get serious and finish this homework. I want to show you this trick I figured out,” I said. “Didn’t Ms. Basho say we have to write about Japanese things like cherry blossoms or ninjas?”

  “No, no, no,” said Sam. “Why does every American kid think Japan is all about ninjas?”

  “Because you see them in every computer game, cartoon, and kung-fu movie?” said Fred.

  “Historical research shows most ninjas were just hired robbers. The real warriors in Japan were the samurai,” said Sam. “Let me show you these guys.”

  Sam scooped up a pile of books from his mom’s desk, dumped them on the kitchen table, and started flipping through them like a maniac. In case you haven’t noticed, Sam’s like that. He’s a maniac for something different every week. Last week he knew everything about sharks. This week it was everything about Japanese samurai warriors. I don’t know where he gets it. Though now that I think of it, I guess he does get a lot of that craziness from his mom. Sam lives with just his mom. She writes stuff for magazines and books and computer sites. She knows all kinds of stuff, and she’s always going crazy over whatever she’s working on.

  “Look at these stone castles. Four hundred, five hundred years old. Look at these armies. Check out these swords.” Sam flopped open a book to a picture of two beautiful swords, one long, one short. “The long one is called a katana. The short one is called a wakizashi. If you were a samurai, you carried both swords tucked into your sash. And here’s how sharp they were.”

  Sam opened another book to a black-and-white drawing of samurai warriors looking at two shelves. The shelves were full of heads. Yes—heads. Just ... heads.

  “Oh man,” said Fred. “I guess they were the losers.”

  “Definitely,” said Sam. “The winning general had the heads of the losers in battle washed and combed. Then he inspected them. If the eyes were looking up, that was unlucky. E
yes looking down or closed were lucky.”

  “Either way sounds pretty unlucky for the guy losing his head,” I said.

  Sam threw out more pictures of armored and helmeted samurai in battle. “And you’ve got to see these movies I’ve been watching with my mom. She’s writing this article on samurai. We’ve seen Seven Samurai, Shogun, Ran, Samurai—”

  “Aren’t they all in Japanese?” said Fred. “I hate those movies where you have to read them.”

  “There’s not many words in the good action scenes,” said Sam. “And I started to learn some Japanese just from listening.”

  I looked up from the samurai warlords book. “Hey that’s the trick I was going to show you. Remember when you asked how come everyone speaks English no matter where we time warp?”

  “Yeah,” said Sam.

  “Well, you were right. I found a part in The Book that explains the Auto-Translator. It automatically translates everything into The Book user’s language. Look.” I pulled a thin blue book covered with silver writing and designs out of my backpack.

  Sam jumped up from the kitchen table. “Are you crazy? Put that away! You know if you get that thing anywhere near those samurai books something is going to happen and the next thing you know, we’ll be back in sixteen-hundred Japan with armored samurai trying to slice off our heads.”

  “Ah, calm down,” said Fred, slapping Sam with his hat. “This sounds good. Maybe there is an Auto-Haiku Writer or an Auto-Homework Doer in there. We could put our empty papers in there. Go get a slice of pizza. Come back, and we’re finished.”

  “I don’t know,” I said. “But look in the back here. I think I finally found the section that explains how The Book works.”

  That got Sam interested. “Really?” He moved one step closer. “Just don’t anybody touch any pictures or read anything from The Book out loud.”

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