Sadako Book Cover B o o k   R e v i e w
Sadako and the Thousand Cranes

by Florence Temko
The true and touching story of a Japanese girl called Sadako has inspired people all over the world and is the subject of a 48-page picture book, Sadako (published by Putnam Pub Group at $17.99 ISBN: 0399217711). Author Eleanor Coerr provides the text and Caldecott award-winning artist Ed Young contributes exquisite pastel drawings.

Sadako Sasaki was 12 years old, ten years after the atom bombing of Hiroshima in World War II. Unfortunately she had to be hospitalized when she developed leukemia from the effects of radiation. She remembered the Japanese legend that anyone folding a thousand paper cranes is granted a wish. She set about this task with great hope for her recovery but her health held out only long enough to complete 644.

The crane, which has a long life-span, is an age-old Oriental symbol of good fortune and longevity. Because of Sadako’s courageous story, the crane achieved added significance as the symbol of peace throughout the world.

In this spirit, the city of Hiroshima built a Peace Memorial with a figure of Sadako holding a large golden crane above her head with outstretched hands. Every year children from Japan and many other countries send thousands and thousands of folded paper cranes to Hiroshima, where they pile up in huge mountains around Sadako’s statue as a prayer for worldwide peace.

Cranes folded from squares of paper without any cutting or gluing are probably the most popular example of the art of origami. Origami is now enjoyed by children and adults alike, not only in Japan, but in many other countries. The Origami/ Paperfolders of San Diego is one of several groups that meet regularly in many places in the United States.

Just before Christmas children from the third and fourth grades of El Cajon schools sent origami cranes to patients at the local Children’s Hospital. Other schools have held their own displays, suspending flocks of birds from classroom ceilings.

Whether they are sent to Hiroshima, hung in the local library, or presented to a wedding couple or to someone recovering from an illness, the gift of a thousand paper cranes is always a strong gesture of caring, devotion, and love.

Florence Temko is the author of 36 how-to books on paper arts and folkcrafts. Paper Pandas and Jumping Frogs - Origami and Its Uses (published by China Books, at $11.95 ISBN 0-8351-1770-7) provides clear directions for folding the traditional crane.
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