The book doesn't focus on any political message, nor does it focus on the war. It is simply the story of a young girl dealing with her own sickness and death, as a result of an event she herself doesn't remember. Nevertheless, this is a tough book for kids and one that sparks discussions about a myriad of topics: war, war on civilians, atomic bombs, cancer, family support during sickness, whether children are trusted with information about their own illness, hope or lack of hope, myths and legends on which people pin their hopes, death, fear of death. And yes, one comes away with a very anti-war feeling of one's own.
I borrowed Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes from the library to read aloud as part of our world history study. Olivia took it off the stack and read it herself before I had the chance to read it aloud. She soon came back with lots of questions. That sparked Karina's curiosity in the book, so she took it off to read. Much, much discussion ensued on all the topics mentioned previously. (Our copy was the original hardcover, pictured to the right, which contains a brief prologue and epilogue. I understand that later versions also contain discussion points. I wish we'd had that version, but we sure managed tons of discussion that sprang naturally from reading the story, even without a guide.)
I suspect this is a story my girls will forever remember.
Karina's response to my query about her reaction to the book was simple, but she takes longer to process thoughts than Olivia. She said: I thought it was really sad, but really good.
This is a really sad book, but really worth reading. Until I read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, I didn't even know America had dropped bombs on Japan during World War Two. It made me sad to think of so many people being killed or infected because of it. The story is good. I loved it. I loved that it was about a real girl. And the pictures helped me to understand some things about the story. I liked the legend of the thousand paper cranes, even though they didn't help Sadako. In the end they did help her since the sight of them moving gently on the breeze gave her comfort as she died. I kept hoping she'd get better, but I realized pretty soon that she just wasn't. I'd definitely recommend it. It's one I'd read again. I think this is a book teachers should read to their students. Warning: reading this book will make you cry, especially the end, so read it with a tissue handy. Don't be afraid of crying; you won't regret reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.
Published in 1977 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Review copy borrowed from the library.