Moving, intricate and haunting, The Last Paper Crane explores the 1945 tragedy of Hiroshima, revealed to teenager Mizuki through the memories of his grandfather – an eyewitness to the unspeakable horrors of the atomic bomb. Mixing prose with verse and Haiku, and accompanied by the exquisite illustrations of Natsko Seki, this beautiful book – despite its harrowing topic – manages to uphold faith in human compassion, love and courage.
A Japanese teenager, Mizuki, is worried about her grandfather who is clearly desperately upset about something. He says that he has never got over something that happened in his past and gently Mizuki persuades him to tell her what it is. We are taken to 1945, Hiroshima, and Mizuki's grandfather as a teenage boy chatting at home with his friend Hiro. Moments later the horrific nuclear bomb is dropped on Hiroshima.
What follows is a searing account of the blinding flash, the harrowing search for family and the devastation both human and physical. There is also the very moving and human story as the two teenage boys with great bravery search for and find Keiko, Hiro's five-year-old sister. But then Keiko is lost when Mizuki's grandfather has no option but to leave her in a safe place while he goes for help... Despite a desperate search in the aftermath of the bomb, where he leaves origami folded paper cranes for Keiko with his address on everywhere a survivor could be, he cannot find her...
A powerful novel that, despite its harrowing subject matter, has hope at its heart
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 350 g
Dimensions: 198 x 130 x 20 mm
This is a harrowing tale but the ultimate redemption in the story leaves one with a sense of hope. Highly recommended. * Love Reading 4 Schools *
Flicking between contemporary Japan and 1945, this story is simultaneously heart-warming and heartbreaking. Told in dual narrative verse and prose, we hear from both Mizuki and her grandfather. Mizuki is worried about him. Slowly, her grandfather tells his story and shares his experience of surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He reveals the events that have haunted him throughout his life. By creating moving and relatable characters, Kerry Drewery has beautifully conveyed the unique, human experience of living through a catastrophic event. * The Scotsman *
I loved this book. Such a heart-breaking and difficult subject, but Kerry's writing is beautiful, lyrical and poetic and has created a story that manages to be heart-warming and life-affirming whilst covering one of the most devastating events of the last century. * Liz Kessler *
A spell-binding story that spans generations, telling the story of Ichiro who experiences the Hiroshima atomic bomb as a child and his granddaughter Mizuki who will do anything to help him in his old age, including trying to repair a 70-year=old broken promise. An innovative and moving story told through a mixture of prose poetry, and haiku sequences. * School Reading List *
This may be one of the most affecting books that I have ever read. And one of the most beautiful. The tragedy that was the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is rarely spoken of today. It is barely remembered by those old enough to do so and totally unknown to many young people. The Last Paper Crane by Kerry Drewery is about remembering. Remembering people, places and promises. Illustrated with great sensitivity by Natsko Seki, it is remarkable for its restraint, its sparse eloquence and its compassion. Mizuki is worried about her grandfather, a survivor of Hiroshima, and to understand his anxiety she listens to the story of that day in 1945 when his world exploded without warning. The young Ichiro, his best friend and little sister are catapulted into a landscape resembling nothing they can comprehend. A promise is made; it is almost lost and then redeemed. Moving between two timescapes, in Haiku, free verse and elegant prose, Kerry Drewery describes the shock and the loss but never dwells on the horror. The baffled young man is brave and honourable and forgiving. He bears no anger and no resentment. But the silent question 'why?' rings out from his story as he witnesses unspeakable suffering. Both the author and the illustrator describe their personal sense of responsibility and the need to bear witness. They take great care to show only what is essential, and their clarity of purpose hits home far better than a lurid retelling would do. This is not only a very good book; it is an important one. We are all stories, the author says. And stories must be read and told and heard in order to live. * Childrens Books Ireland *
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