Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 302

Picture Book: Sadako

Author: Eleanor Coerr

Illustrator: Ed Young

Summary: It’s August of 1954 in Hiroshima, Japan, and a happy and healthy Sadako Sasaki is anticipating Peace Day, a memorial day for those who died in the atomic bombing of that city. Although it is like a carnival, Sadako is reminded that it is first a day of memorial and reverance. Next we learn of Sadako’s dreams of being a great runner as she prepares for a relay race. When spells of dizziness and fainting plague her, Sadako is diagnosed with leukemia, known as the atomic bomb disease. She is hospitalized long term. A friend brings her origami paper and tells her of a Japanese legend. If a sick person folds one thousand paper cranes, she will be made well again. With each crane Sadako folds, she wishes to get better. She meets a young boy with the same disease who has little hope. She sends him a crane, but it does not save him. After folding 500 cranes, Sadako does begin to feel better so she goes home where she receives a beautiful kimono from her mother. She becomes weak again and returns to the hospital where she continues to work on her cranes, reaching 644. Eventually she begins to accept and wonder about death. Her death is written here as a peaceful, dream with her family surrounding her. After her death, Sadako’s friends finish folding the paper cranes. The book ends with a description of the monument placed in Sadako’s memory at Hiroshima Peace Park where every Peace Day children hang garlands of paper cranes. The monument is inscribed with these words: This is our cry, this our prayer: Peace in the world.    

Hanna’s Comments: This book has many references to Sadako’s faith. You will need to frame these contradictions with your own faith in a way that does not detract from this powerful story. Sadako was made famous all over the world via a chapter book for children written by this author in 1977. Much material is available about her, on-line and otherwise. You’ll find short videos, books of various reading levels, supplemental teaching activities, and even music by pianist George Winston. Her short life has inspired many. Choose carefully what you will share with a young audience. This subject is not an easy one, but it will be remembered. Point out that “peace” has many meanings. In this book, Sadako seems to have attained a personal peace as she faces her death. There is another picture book about Sadako, but it was not in our local library system for me to review. It is Peace Crane by Sheila Hamanaka.  

Publisher & Date of Publication: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1992

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 7 and up, 2nd and up

# of Pages: 48

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: There are none for this picture book, but there are many materials about Sadako Sasaki on-line and otherwise.

PBT Category: Non-fiction, Biography, Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: acceptance, action, Asia, brokenness, commitment, death/loss/grief, difficulties, dying, endings, friends/friendship,  heroes, labor/work, legends/myths, loneliness, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, pacifism/peace/peacemakers, prayer, reverence, victims, war/war veterans, wishes

Scripture Connections: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (Psalm 23:4); blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God (Matthew 5:9); so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18); seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11).

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to older children in lessons about peace or young heroes who have inspired others. 

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