The Complete Story of Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes -- A Look at the Other Side of WWII and the Atomic Bomb

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book and the various packs of origami paper in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Yesterday I shared various chapter books for different ages (7-young adult). I saved this book to be in its own post for several reasons. First it is a true story. Second part of the story reminds me of what we are facing today. I felt I wanted to do more with this book than just review it. It has paper cranes in the title and provides a tutorial at the end of the book to make your own paper cranes. I figured I had to pull out the piles of origami paper I have and start making some cranes. While I sat there making the cranes I realized this was something families could do together. I'll explain more at the end of the post. The book is The Complete Story of Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Sue DiCicco and Mashairo Sasaki (Sadako's brother). It is recommended for ages 7 to 12.

Sadako Sasaki was a toddler when the atomic bomb was dropped on her city, Hiroshima. With the help of a neighbor Sadako's mother was able to get her and her children out of the danger and where they were going to meet Sadako's father (who was a soldier). Sadako's grandmother went back to the wreckage of the house for some momento and didn't make it. 
Now I have shared books about World War II and specifically about life after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. This one is different though. The bomb was just one piece of the story. Ten years after the bomb Sadako started to become sick. Her family knew about what Japan called the atomic bomb disease. We now call it leukemia. Sadako had it. Her family and medical care did not tell her what she had. She was a friendly girl who would visit the different patients in the hospital. She saw her friends from the hospital get better and some die. One she knew had the atomic bomb disease. She recognized her own symptoms when they happened based on the friend's that she witnessed. 

In Japan there is a story that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes your wish will come true. People bring paper cranes strung together to people in the hospital as a wish for them to get better. When Sadako heard this story she began to fold the paper cranes. She made the wish that she would get well and return to home and school. Now paper was not aptly available back then so she used whatever scraps she could find. I decided to fold some paper cranes today to go with this post. I have a large collection of origami paper to review (and have reviewed). 

I used several different sheets from different Origami Paper 6-inch sheets. The paper cranes above are made with the same design (front and back of sheet showing on the different cranes) from Origami Paper 200 Sheet Inspirational Messages. Since the paper cranes now stand for peace it seemed appropriate to make them with inspirational messages, but I also loved the back sides of the sheets. Then I remembered that Sadako used whatever scraps she could find so I looked for my smaller origami paper, Origami Paper 300 Sheets Nature Photos 4". I made one with a smaller sheet and wanted to make even a smaller one, so I took a sheet and folded it into four squares and cut it.

I have to say it was hard to work with such a small sheet. I am guessing Sadako had smaller fingers than me when she was making them though. Here are all three sizes that I made. Now I just have to string them together.
While I folded them I thought what a great family activity this could be. Make the wish about staying healthy, Covid-19 leaving our country quickly, etc. and work together to fold 1,000 paper cranes. You can find instructions similar to the ones provided at the back of the book here. (Or check out this review of Origami Peace Cranes.) You can use any square paper or cut squares. Use wrapping paper, colored paper, printer paper, magazine pages, newspaper, etc. Then string them together and hang them around your house as you keep count and work towards your goal and wish!
Children's Peace Monument in Hiroshima's Peace Park

Ok, back to the book. The story itself is amazing. Sadako sounds like she was an amazing person. Her wish did not come true. She died from the atomic bomb disease over a decade after the bomb was dropped. The Japanese used her as a model for the Children's Peace Monument at Hiroshima's Peace Park. (See photo from book above). Her life story is truly amazing. It is also made so personal by her brother sharing his own stories and memories of his sister. 

The paper cranes are featured throughout the book. They are illustrated on the start of chapters as well as in other places. The other things I love about this book is how there are explanations about what was happening in the world, the Japanese culture and the Japanese language.
See the shaded box with the explanation of the saying and sentiment behind it in the Japanese culture. In the page below there is another shaded box showing another Japanese culture explanation. I love how this book shares so much of this information throughout it. 
I love how this story shares another side to World War II and the tragedy of the atomic bomb. It really is eye opening as to why we need to work harder for world peace. Another great example of this is The Peace Tree of Hiroshima

I hope you will check out this book and the amazing life of Sadako Sasaki. To learn more about the paper cranes be sure to check out my review of Origami Peace Cranes. I would love to see the paper cranes you and your family make. Please share the pictures in the comments or on my Facebook page! In this time when we must be all apart let's do this together! If 1,000 seems like a lot for your family share how many you make and maybe together we can reach 1,000! #papercranechallenge