Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
by Eleanor Coerr
illustrated by Ronald Himler
(children’s historical fiction)
First, about the physical book: this is short. For an adult, you can easily read it in an hour, maybe two if you are studying the illustrations, looking facts up, or trying to learn how to fold your own crane. The illustrations, however, are well worth studying; they are lovely and touching and fit the story very nicely.
Now, about the story: I had to keep in mind that its audience was much younger than I am. It didn’t shy away from the dark — but very real — subject matter, but it did approach it from the eyes of a child. It talks about the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima, and its main character is based on a real girl who died of leukemia as a result of the atom bomb. It’s going to be dark. However, it also manages to portray hope along with the darkness, and while most people will cry at the ending (I did) it’s not a book that leaves you feeling miserable.
I read this book because I intend to give it to my niece, who has recently been interested in origami cranes. She saw a musical version of this story, Peace On Your Wings, so I thought she should read the original — but that I should read it first, just to make sure it wasn’t too dark. It isn’t. This book may inspire tough questions to answer, but isn’t that the point of good literature?
Rating: 4 stars