Paper Cranes

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This is not my usual format, but I am sharing a collage of books on Japan | the Hiroshima Bombing, 1945 and then other books on the folded paper cranes (the art of origami) All in all, they are very connected.

A bit of background:

Thousand Origami Cranes (千羽鶴 Senbazuru) is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes (折鶴 orizuru) held together by strings. Ancient Japanese legends promise that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish or receive eternal good luck, including healing from disease.  *

The crane in Japan is one of their mystical creatures, is said to live for a thousand years.  That is why 1000 cranes are made, one for each year.

The orizuru (折鶴 ori- “folded”… tsuru “crane”), or paper crane, is a design considered the most classic of all Japanese origami.  It is a representation of the Japanese Red-Crowned Crane which has a special significance in Japanese culture.  **

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The Red-Crowned Crane is among the rarest cranes in the world.  They are on the endangered species list.  There are only 2,750 in the wild, including about 1,000 birds in the resident Japanese population (the non-migratory cranes).  The remaining 1,750 migrate from Korea, China, and Taiwan to Siberia, China, and Mongolia.  Normally the crane lays 2 eggs, with only one surviving.  ***

The Crane myth is all positive—it mates for life (loyalty), and flies high for miles without tiring (strength.)  It is known as a symbol of luck, longevity and fidelity.

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I recently reviewed “The Last Cherry Blossom” by Kathleen Burkinshaw, revealing the memories of a twelve year old when the atom bomb destroyed Hiroshima, mostly based on the real life of Mrs. Burkinshaw’s mother.

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Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr shows two covers above (pink and green) which are the same book.  This book is written for the middle grades and is 80 pages long.  The book entitled Sadako is also by Eleanor Coerr but is 48 pages, written for the 4 – 8 year old.  It is beautifully illustrated by a Caldecott Medal winner, Ed Young.

The story is about Sadako Sasaki who was two years old when the atom bomb destroyed Hiroshima.  It is a true story.  Sadako, at twelve, got Leukemia from the fallout of the bomb.  She resided in the hospital at the end of her short life.  A friend made a crane from paper using origami.  The remainder of Sadako’s days became paper-folding ones.  Her family and friends hoped that she would be healed when they reached that thousand-crane mark.  Her courage changed many lives after she passed away.

The versions are the same story…told at two different age levels.

One Thousand Paper Cranes by Ishii Takayuki is another story about Sadako Sasaki.  After her death, her friends and family started a national campaign to build the Children’s Peace Statue, remembering Sadako and the many other children who were victims of the Hiroshima bombing. On top of the statue is another statue…of Sadako, holding a large crane in her outstretched arms.  Today in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, this statue of Sadako and the area around is beautifully decorated with thousands of paper cranes made and given by people around the world.  Many cities around the world have statues or monuments dedicated to Sadako and the other children, each dedicated to peace in this world.

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The Paper Crane by Molly Bang retells an ancient Japanese folktale, illustrated with paintings and cut-paper collages.  It is for the 4 – 8 year old.

Tree of Cranes by Allen Say is also for the 4 – 8 year old.  At Christmas, a young boy, sick with a cold, has his mother to tend to him.  She goes into the garden to dig up the pine tree that was planted when he was born.  She brings it inside for the boy’s first Christmas tree.  She decorates it with paper cranes and candles. The story is beautiful, surrounded by Say’s fine illustrations.

Yoko’s Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells is geared for the 3 – 7 year old group.  Yoko lives in the United States after moving from Japan.  She misses her grandmother, Obaasan, whose garden is visited each year by migrating cranes, and her grandfather, Ojiisan, who showed her how to fold cranes out of paper.  Yoko sends Obaasan some origami cranes for her birthday, folded just as Ojiisan had taught her. The greeting with the gift is, “Soon I will come back to Japan, just like the cranes,” reminding children that a grandparent’s love is enduring no matter how far apart they live.  The art is colorful and filled with patterns of fabric.

A Thousand Cranes: Origami Projects for Peace and Happiness by Florence Temko is for ages 10 and up.  A strand of one thousand origami cranes is an international symbol for peace, happiness, and health.  The book contains forty-eight tear-out sheets of colorful chiyogami (origami paper) for folding cranes and other things. Included is the story of Sadako of Hiroshima.  There are suggestions for how to use the subject of cranes in the classroom and hospitals; making the crane can be used as gifts and by people everywhere to demonstrate their commitment to world peace.

 

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*Wikipedia on “One Thousand Cranes”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_thousand_origami_cranes

**Wikipedia on orizuruhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orizuru

***Wikipedia on “The Red-Crowned Crane”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-crowned_crane

Photos of The Children’s Peace Monument (原爆の子の像 Genbaku no Ko no Zō – “Atomic Bomb Children Statue”) is a monument for peace to commemorate Sadako Sasaki and the thousands of child victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. This monument is located in Hiroshima, Japan…  https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sadako+childrens+peace+park&FORM=HDRSC2

THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw

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This middle school historical novel is set during a short span at the end of World War II.  The story is generally based upon the author’s mother’s firsthand experiences of World War II in Japan and surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  The story is told from the point of a twelve year old, which was the age of Mrs. Burkinshaw’s mother on August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb exploded on Hiroshima.

Young Yuriko Ishikawa was most content with life in Hiroshima with Papa.  Then Aunt Kimiko and little cousin Genji came to live with them.  To further complicate the peaceful life of Yuriko, the aunt and her Papa have a double wedding, bringing two more adults into the house.  Noise and chaos became more the norm for Yuriko which made her far less comfortable in her own home.

The ways of war were also significantly spread into all areas of Yuriko’s life.  The sirens of air-raids, preparation through drills, and the sound of American B-29s flying overhead were a continual kind of noise pollution to her.  The Japanese people were kept in the dark about how their country stood in the war, especially when it came to losses versus victories.  Despite the necessity of participating in the war effort, Yuriko and her family did their best to keep some semblance of normal in their lives, such as celebrating Oshagatsu (New Year’s) and the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Yuriko is shattered when a family secret is revealed.  As if dealing with all of that was not enough, the atomic bomb on Hiroshima devastates the family and the community.  Nothing could have prepared them for the total destruction that surrounds them.

Hope does sidle alongside tragedy in this well-written novel.  Kathleen Burkinshaw writes with reverence a fictional tale of her mother’s story…the experiences of growing up in Hiroshima and surviving August 6, 1945.   She was twelve years old on that day.

At each chapter, there are actual newspaper headlines, propaganda posters, and epigraphs of radio-show transcripts making the story all the more authentic.  At the end, you will find a bibliography, a glossary, and statistics about Hiroshima.  It dovetails exceptionally well with a middle grade(junior high) unit on Japan during World War II.

Age Range:  11 – 13 Years

Author

Kathleen Burkinshaw has been sharing her mother’s story to middle school history and language arts classes for the past six years.  She has been carrying her mother’s story her entire life and feels very honored to share it with the world.  She and her family visited Hiroshima in recent years and shares that experience in her presentations to classes.  Another part of the presentation includes the effects of nuclear bombs today compared to the atomic bomb in 1945. You can find information regarding all of this on the webpage for this fine debut novel…http://kathleenburkinshaw.com/

She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband.  Her daughter is away at college.  Kathleen worked in HealthCare Management for more than ten years, but because of the onset of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), she had to let that career go.  Writing gives her an outlet for her daily struggle with chronic pain as well as for her love of research and writing.   Her blog is @ Creating Through the Pain

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Book Information

ISBN-13: 9781634506939
Publisher:  Sky Pony Press
Publication date: 08/02/2016
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Publication date: 08/02/2016

LISTEN, SLOWLY by Thanhhà Lai

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Mai is twelve and has high hopes to spend her summer vacation on a nearby California beach with her friends, including a certain boy…expressed as “HIM” throughout.  But her family has a different idea for Mai.  She and her father are to take her grandmother, Bà, to Việt Nam, possibly for a short visit, possibly much longer.

Bà’s husband, Ông, never returned from the Việt Nam War where he was held captive as a POW.  A detective has found a guard who had been with Ông in the Prisoner of War camp.

Bà has need for closure after all of these years have passed since flight from her home country to California with her children and without her husband and since the war ended.

As Listen, Slowly begins, Mai certainly does not want to be going to Việt Nam.

This story is about relationships between family members, between friends.  It is about caring for others over oneself, about respect, and about country whether it is your country or your parents’ or your grandparents’.

Bà is old, yet she is wise.  She loves her family, her village in Việt Nam, and her home of Sài Gòn.  She misses Ông terribly.  Bà is given a special trip into the tunnel where Ông had been kept captive with the guard where she finds a message on a wall.  It was written by Ông, allowing Bà to have a sense of peace and to know closure with Ông.  Bà shares, Fate did not grant him the privilege to see our children reach adulthood or the pleasure to witness our wrinkles writing stories on our faces, but in the time we were allowed, we knew our treasure. 

Family and friends find room in Việt Nam to be with one another, listening to hearts and not just to words.  Bà says to Mai:  I tell you of loss, my child, so you will listen, slowly, and know that in life every emotion is fated to rear itself within your being.  Don’t judge it proper or ugly.  It’s simply here and yours.  Learning to listen, listening…slowly, is a beautiful lesson for all.

Mai returns to California a bit more grown up, cherishing her special relationship with her grandmother.

Just as Inside Out and Back Again is a unique and special story by Thanhhai Lai, this second book of hers is one as well.  Tangling, untangling, and weaving people and places together makes this an especially fine story.  Learning more about the Vietnamese culture broadens my perspective on a people who have endured much from many.

Age Range: 8 – 12 Years

Awards

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

Author

Thanhhà Lai fled Việt Nam during the Việt Nam War. She was relocated in Alabama, USA.  She attended college at the University of Texas, Austin, graduating with a degree in journalism.  For two years, beginning in 1988, Ms. Lai worked for the Orange County, California, The Register newspaper, covering Little Saigon, the local Vietnamese community.  She went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts from New York University.  Thanhhà Lai settled in New York City, where she taught at Parsons, The New School for design.  She can be found @ http://www.thanhhalai.com/

 

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Book Information

ISBN-13: 9780062229199
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers 
Edition description: Reprint
Publication date: 05/17/2016
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)

POEMS TO LEARN BY HEART by Caroline Kennedy

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This is a collection of almost 200 poems, a companion to “A Family of Poems,” Caroline Kennedy’s New York Times #1 Bestseller from 2005.  This beautiful volume is filled with poetry of all sorts: about one’s self, family, friendship, and love.  There are poems about sports and games, about school.  Nonsensical poetry, poems about fairies, ogres, and witches are included too.  There are deeply touching poems about war, poetry about nature, Bible verses, and so much more are scattered together and throughout this fine book.

“Poets distill life’s lessons into the fewest possible words.  But those tiny packages of thought contain worlds of images and experiences and feelings.”  Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy writes about the importance of memorization of poetry in her introduction.  “If our circumstances change and things seem to be falling apart, we can recall a poem that reassures us. If we find ourselves in unfamiliar or frightening surroundings, a poem can remind us that others have journeyed far and returned safely home.  If we learn poems by heart, we will always have their wisdom to draw on, and we gain understanding that no one can take away.”

As a Bible verse is memorized and tucked into my heart, even if only in part, it will be there when I need it the most.  Poetry can be a similar strength in a weaker time.

This anthology has works of art by well known poets from the past such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  They remind me of poetry I once read, maybe even memorized for a class.  Geoffrey Chaucer’s General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales is even etched into this book. (I read the whole of The Canterbury Tales when I was in high school from the Old English translation, no less, each night for homework, translating it into “readable” English for Senior English class/Mrs. Lee!  I recall the assignment well.  I did not tuck any of that away for those weaker moments, I am afraid!)  Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, along with Ogden Nash, Carl Sandburg, and many others remind parents of poems they may have memorized or read.

Poetry by A.A. Milne, Nikki Giovanni, Shel Silverstein, Jane Yolen, and Jack Prelutsky represents some of the newer poets yet each stands tall among those of years gone by.

Caroline Kennedy worked regularly with the DreamYard Preparatory School in the Bronx who authored a lengthy poem (or more) in this book as well.  These young people are the DreamYard Slam Team.  She dedicates the book to them and their futures.

The watercolor paintings of Jon J. Muth are gentle and excellent for each and every page, each and every poem.  As one example, on page 35, the Bible verse, Micah 6:8, is written upon an array of blues suggesting the heavenly realm spread over the double-page:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Yes, Bible verses can also poetry.

This is another fine collection from Caroline Kennedy.  She is an advocate for poetry as she was brought up with it in her family.  They shared poetry at gatherings of the whole Kennedy clan as well as amongst their own smaller family.  Caroline said her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, loved poetry and encouraged her children to engage with it, to memorize it.  Rose Kennedy, Caroline’s grandmother, was another encourager along this creative avenue.

Reading Level: Preschool and up

Author

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is a lawyer, author, education advocate, and lifelong supporter of the arts.  Ms. Kennedy attended Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, England from 1975-1976. She earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from Radcliffe College at Harvard University in 1980. Ms. Kennedy received her J.D. from Columbia University Law School in 1988.  She is the Ambassador to Japan from the United States of America.

She is the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis , sister to John Kennedy.

She has written many books and articles, subjects ranging from legal issues, family and children, the Kennedy family, and poetry.

Illustrator

Jon J Muth is an American artist, born and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He loved to draw as a boy, and he also painted. His mother was an art teacher and took him to museums all over the US.  He studied stone sculpture in Japan; paintings, prints and drawings in Austria, Germany, and England.  Most of his education as an artist came from an informal apprenticeship with fine artists.

“My work in children’s books really grew out of a desire to explore what I was feeling as a new father,” says Muth. “I was working in comics and that is a natural forum for expressions of angst and questioning one’s place in the universe. When the children came it became important to say other things about the world. With the birth of my children, there was a kind of seismic shift in where my work seemed appropriate.”

Jon Muth has illustrated (and written some) picture books of high acclaim.  They are beloved around the world.

Muth lives in upstate New York with his wife and four children. Jon can be found @ jonmuth.com or on Pinterest or @ RMichelsonGalleries  or  http://www.rmichelson.com/illustration/jon-j-muth/poems-to-learn-by-heart/  for many paintings from this book.

Book Information

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (March 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423108051
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423108054
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds

 

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INSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai

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This award-winning story is told from Ha’s perspective in prose of somewhat broken English, yet typed in a poetic format.  It is easy to read, short lines, few words on each page, every one to three pages is a new day.  The story begins in Saigon where Ha, her mother, and three older brothers live.  Ha’s father has gone missing in action.  The family is trying to hold onto hope while Vietnam is filled with war and strife.  The war has not yet come to Saigon.

The author’s firsthand experiences as an immigrant, torn a way from her native land of Vietnam when she was ten years old is the structure upon which this novel is based.

For one year, we follow Ha’s thoughts, emotions, and actions, written into her diary.  In the beginning, Saigon seems far from the war zone so life seems fairly normal from a ten year old’s eyes and heart.  She knows and loves this city.  The disappearance of her father as he serves in the South Vietnamese army brings the war much closer to Ha’s heart, yet she still goes about her days.  The Vietnam War quickly moves closer to Saigon and the family must flee.

We follow Ha as she boards a ship to the United States, eventually landing in Alabama. Living there brings on a whole new set of problems for Ha.  She is young and vulnerable as an immigrant.  Bullying and teasing are a daunting  reality for Ha, yet there are others who truly care about Ha and her family.  Caring comes through an American teacher as well as from the man who “sponsored” them.

The story seems and feels so real.  This is the diary of a girl in an extremely difficult period of her young life.  Thanhha Lai writes from personal life events, placing some of those into Ha’s hands.  Her words are written superbly bringing a story of what a child, a ten year old, experiences in having to flee her native country and only home she has ever known.

The ESL teacher who cares about Ha and her family is real for me.  I was an ESL teacher to sixty elementary-aged children for a number of years during my teaching career.  There were thirteen languages spoken among those sixty children.  Even the children could not communicate very well at first with one another.  The language barrier was HUGE!  It was vital that the children learned the language of their new country because they became the bridge for the parents in many cases.  The children took their English lessons home each day to teach their parents and others in the neighborhoods where they found themselves.  Immigrants from many Far Eastern countries, Mexico, Central America, and even one child from Romania were among my children.  See how I still call them “my children.”  I just loved them and wanted the best for them as they had lost so much.

English is a tough language to learn.  There are so very many exceptions to the rules, so many words that sound alike but mean different things.  So much to try to understand.

Ha writes:

“August 30

Fourth Rule

Some verbs

switch all over

just because.

I am

She is

They are

He was

They were

Would be simpler

if English

and life were logical.”

“September 30

Spelling Rules

Sometimes 

the spelling changes

when adding an s.

Knife becomes knives.

Sometimes

a c is used

instead of a k,

even if

it makes more sense

for cat to be spelled kat.

Sometimes

a y is used

instead of an e,

even if 

it makes more sense

for moldy to be spelled molde.

Whoever invented English

should have learned 

to spell.”

And there are many more delightful insights into the language I call mine.

This window into a ten year old’s shattered and changing life is filled with introspection and insight into what children go through when we, as adults, are busy trying to care for them and handle everything else, living in the stresses of war, emigrating, loss of a husband, and so much more.  The children are going through their own battles and have years ahead of them in which to live with these life-changing events in their own ways.  With our world of today (2016) filled with war-torn countries, families fleeing for their lives, fleeing to safety and hope, this one year from a girl’s heart, soul, and mind gives the reader a real glimpse into the lives of many we may have in our own neighborhoods.

School!

I wake up with

dragonflies

zipping through

my gut.

…It helps that

the morning air glides cool

like a constant washcloth

against my face.

Reading Level: 8 – 12 years

Author

Thanhha Lai was born in Saigon, Vietnam.  After the Vietnam War in 1975, her family immigrated to Montgomery, Alabama.  She currently lives north of New York City.

“Most importantly, I’ve started a not-for-profit organization called Viet Kids Inc. to buy bicycles for poor students in Vietnam.”

You can find Ms. Lai here.

A second novel has recently been published and is a bestseller too:  Listen, Slowly

Awards:

  • National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, 2011
  • Newbery Honor, 2012
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor for Older Children, 2012
  • ALA Notable Children’s Book 2012, Middle
  • Booklist 2011 Editors’ Choice, Books for Youth, Fiction, Middle Reader
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2011
  • Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books 2011, Fiction
  • SLJ Best Books of 2011, Fiction
  • Booklist Lasting Connections of 2012, Social Studies
  • Notable Children’s Book in the English Language Arts, 2012
  • CCBC Choices, 2012
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2012, World History & Culture

Book Information

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (January 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061962791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061962790
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches

 

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