Paperback (80 pages)
Reading Challenges: 2016 Backlist Books, 2016 Re-Reading, Read 2016
Hiroshima-born Sadako is lively and athletic--the star of her school's running team. And then the dizzy spells start. Soon gravely ill with leukemia, the "atom bomb disease," Sadako faces her future with spirit and bravery. Recalling a Japanese legend, Sadako sets to work folding paper cranes. For the legend holds that if a sick person folds one thousand cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her healthy again.
Based on a true story, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes celebrates the extraordinary courage that made one young woman a heroine in Japan.
This is a book my students were recently reading as a novel study. We read the book, talked about the historical setting, and even had a Japanese Culture Day. The students absolutely loved this book. I was rather surprised by how much.
Sadako was two years old when the atom bomb was dropped in Hiroshima. The bomb killed her grandmother and many others that day. Years later, the effects of the bomb’s radiation are still felt by those who have acquired leukemia.
Sadako has only wanted to be a runner. She loved to run. To her, running is everything. Then, she starts to get dizzy while running. She tries to shake it off until the day she collapses at school. At the hospital, Sadako is diagnosed with leukemia.
Sadako’s friend, Chizuko, reminds Sadako of the story of the thousand paper cranes. The legend goes that if someone folds one thousand paper cranes, her wish will be granted. Chizuko gives Sadako her first paper crane, a golden crane. Sadako vows to fold one thousand paper cranes so that her wish to be healthy will be granted.
This is a sad story. The prologue tells you that Sadako dies when she is twelve years old. That isn’t going to be a happy ending. What surprised me so much was the way the students really loved the book, even the sad parts. I heard one student telling her classmates, “It is really sad but you need to read it.”
The most amazing part of this story, to me, is that it is real. Sadako did fold over six hundred paper cranes. Her family has donated some of those cranes to places all over the world to promote peace. Ground Zero in New York City has one of the last cranes Sadako ever folded. That is pretty amazing.
We also folded some paper cranes and they are still hanging in the classroom. Most were folded with looseleaf, some with construction paper, and some with notecards.