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Paterson, Katherine. THE SIGN OF THE CHRYSANTHEMUM
New York : Harper, 1988
IL 5-8, RL 5.6
Set in 12th century Japan, the story centers on 14 year old Muna. Living in a small village, Muna longs to find the father he has never known. His mother has told him tales of a great warrior who came to the village years ago. He was a fierce samurai with a tattoo of a chrysanthemum on his shoulder. When she passes away, Muna stows away on a ship bound for the city in search of his father. He is discovered and a likable ronin named Takanobu takes him under his wing. Muna soon realizes that Takanobu is a bit of a scoundrel, but he has been kind to Muna and deserves loyalty. One night, a fire breaks out in a bar where Takanobu has been drinking. Muna tries to save him, but suffers smoke inhalation and is not successful. Fukuji, a master swordsmith, takes Muna in and helps him heal. After, Muna stays with Fukuji doing chores around the house to earn his keep. Muna is happy with his life and hopes that one day Fukuji will take him on as an apprentice. But fate has other plans for Muna.