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A Silence of Stones by Charles Coiro

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A Silence of Stones by Charles Coiro
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Sensitive Kenji Kuro, son of a vulgar Japanese officer is cowed into going to military school. Here he meets a young boy whose has been educated in the arts of Haiku and in the study of the traditional Japanese garden.  The boys meet a priest whose influence greatly changes Kenji's life.

While searching for sacred stones, Kenji meets a master gardener who apprentices Kenji to work in the design of gardens. After questioning Kenji about leaving home and school, the master discovers that Kenji still hates his father.  He is discharged from his work for the reason that anyone with hatred cannot work in creating a sacred garden.

Kenji returns to military school after his father is severly wounded, where he succeeds in his role as a military man but fails when Kenji consideres his being untrue to his true feelings.


Kenji Kuro was at age 16, an already accomplished young man. He spoke, read and wrote in Chinese, English and French, as well as his native Japanese. He had read many of the classic writers: was conversant with up to date politics in the four countries and in addition, a neophyte poet. He was interested in the arts and in particular the arts of his country, Japan. Of friends, he had few, always preferring to study alone or to pass time with his mother.

In appearance he was very deceptive for he was quite short in stature than most boys his age and he was quite thin, all of which made him appear younger than he was. His jet black hair he wore in bangs as though a bowl had been placed on his head with the hair cut the same length all around, his complexion was almost porcelain like, with eyes ,a shiny black that pierced the person he was talking to. They were eyes that seemed not to question the interlocutor but instead, seemed to absorb all that was being said to him.

His family dressed him like quite a little gentleman and he presented himself as always neat and ordered. He was obedient and never answered his parents in a negative way even when he was not pleased when asked to do something he inwardly opposed. He enjoyed talking and discussing various subjects, with his mother, Michiko: especially art, of which she was an accomplished performer on the Shamisen, a 3 stringed, plucked lute.

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