Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

May 24, 2012

In this truly heartwarming-- and heartbreaking-- story by Eleanor Coerr, a young Japanese girl awakes one morning to find all her dreams crushed because of the terrifying atom bomb disease, leukemia. Her hopes of becoming a track star on the junior high school's running team are in ruins-- but out of this misery there arises a fresh new hope: If only Sadako could fold one thousand paper cranes, all would be well.

It was her best friend, Chizuko, who had first brought news-- and hope, with the arrival of the first crane. Just the year before, Sadako had been frightened by the grotesque faces of the atom bomb victims. She had not known that hardly a year later, she would belong to a class of them: victims of the "aftereffects" of the atom bomb-- victims of leukemia. Sadako tried hard to believe in the cranes, but when a little boy, a fellow leukemia victim, Kenji, dies, her hope began to waver.

The hardest race of Sadako's life... the race against time.
As literary critic Anita Silvey put it,
This slim book of 80 pages, written in very simple language, presents [Sadako's] heart-wrenching story...A three-handkerchief story, it will always work for those readers who request a sad book. By showing the effect of a war on the life of a vibrant and attractive child, Eleanor Coerr wrote a powerful book that advocates for peace."
Eleanor CoerrI recently read an article that made me very sad. Eleanor Coerr, the author of this much-loved book, passed away in 2010, two years ago. If she had been alive, this year she would have celebrated her 90th birthday, just like Mrs. White in the popular series The Cobble Street Cousins by Cynthia Rylant. Anyway, I leave you with this thought.

Oh, river (from Moon over Manifest), Dana