Going to school in Japan instead of starting high school in Australia with her friends worries Hannah; her height and auburn hair will really make her stand out. But a mysterious message from the past sends her exploring her new city quickly.
Her host-father translates the ancient kanji on the fragile paper – it’s a puzzle, asking the finder to “help the ocean boy” by following the cryptic instructions. After “the first snowfall,” Hannah, host-sister Miki, and neighbor Hiro travel to “the temple of secrets” and see a vision from the past!
A boisterous ghost in the house, donuts tossed in the air, messages on her mirror, that recurring dream of the tunnel, a house of cards… Hannah finds they’re all pieces of the puzzle (except the donuts). A suit of samurai armor is delivered to Miki’s shop and puffs out incense with no fire. Japanese school is interesting, but waiting until time to “go at sunrise to wake the dragon” is hard.
Why has the “ocean boy” chosen Hannah to help him finish his task from the past? Is the man suddenly appearing all over their neighborhood “the one who does not want the boy to go”? And why has the samurai armor’s incense smoke changed from blue to yellow?
You’ll get peeks into modern Japanese culture as well as older folktales and traditions as you visit Kanazawa’s festivals and parks with Hannah, Miki, and Hiro to solve the mystery before it’s too late for “the ocean boy.”
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA
Twelve-year old Hannah has been sent off to school in Japan to learn Japanese. She's staying with her mother's friend while her mother travels to get information for a book she's writing. Strange things start happening right away. Inexplicably, her mother falls down the stairs at her friend's home. Then, on a visit to the Ninja Temple, Hannah begins to feel uneasy. The eeriness continues when a musician hands Hannah a sleeve lantern. What did the paper say that was in the yellow box? "If you choose to help the ocean boy, wait for the first snowfall. The flute player at the temple of secrets has the fox light." What does it mean? Is there really a ghost behind these strange happenings? 288 pages Ages 10-14