Burkinshaw, Kathleen The Last Cherry Blossom Skypony Press (Skyhourse), 2016. $16.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: PG
Set in the mid 1940’s in Hiroshima, Japan this is the story of twelve year old Yuriko. She is going to school, hanging out with friends, and annoyed at family: typical pre-teen stuff. But also she is living in the middle of World War II. There are men going off to war, air drills, girls being sent to the factories, rationing, and anti-American sentiment. Then atomic bomb hits Hiroshima with its epic devastation, changing Yuriko’s world forever.
Based closely on the author’s mother’s real life story, this book provides a unique point of view that students don’t often get a chance to be a part of. The bulk of the story is Yuriko’s daily life during the war, with only a small portion happening during the bomb and afterwards. I am not sure that student reader’s on their own will stick with the story during the daily life section, it feels overly long. The part they are most interested in feels very short and I found myself disappointed with the aftermath as well, I wanted to know more about how she felt, coped, and if she found happiness. The cover is incredibly unappealing for students readers. I think a teacher could use this a read-a-loud and really bring it to life.
EL, MS – OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.