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Title: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
Sadako is a young girl who lives with her family in Hiroshima, Japan. She dreams of running on the school’s relay team. Though she was only a baby when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima during WWII, she later contracts leukemia. Sadako’s best friend, Chizuko, tells her of a legend that says that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, the gods will grant your wish to get better. Sadako makes it her goal to fold 1,000 cranes and tries to come to terms with her own mortality.
I think this may have been the first book I read as a child that made me cry and made my heart ache. Sadako’s story is so tragic and it’s simple enough that it’s a good way to introduce kids to the concept of death. It also serves as an age-appropriate introduction to WWII and some of the lasting effects that it had on everyday people. The book is based on a true story.
A few years ago, my husband read the book at my suggestion. I didn’t tell him how sad it was, and he came to me after he had finished, with tears in his eyes, and asked why I didn’t warn him. Oops–I didn’t know it would affect him quite so much. So, be prepared for some weepiness if you or your child chooses to read the book.
I recommend Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes to kids in elementary or middle school, or as a poignant family read-aloud.
Rating: 5 Stars
Until next time…