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Sachiko
Cover of Sachiko
Sachiko
A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story
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"What happened to me must never happen to you."—Sachiko Yasui August 9, 1945, began like any other day for six-year-old Sachiko. Her country was at war, she didn't have enough to eat. At 11:01 a.m.,...
"What happened to me must never happen to you."—Sachiko Yasui August 9, 1945, began like any other day for six-year-old Sachiko. Her country was at war, she didn't have enough to eat. At 11:01 a.m.,...
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  • "What happened to me must never happen to you."—Sachiko Yasui

    August 9, 1945, began like any other day for six-year-old Sachiko. Her country was at war, she didn't have enough to eat. At 11:01 a.m., she was playing outdoors with four other children. Moments later, those children were all dead. An atomic bomb had exploded just half a mile away.

    In the days and months that followed, Sachiko lost family members, her hair fell out, she woke screaming in the night. When she was finally well enough to start school, other children bullied her. Through it all, she sought to understand what had happened, finding strength in the writings of Helen Keller, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.

    Based on extensive interviews with Sachiko Yasui, Caren Stelson shares the true story of a young girl who survived the atomic bomb and chronicles her long journey to find peace. Sachiko offers readers a remarkable new perspective on the final moments of World War II—and their aftermath.

    This striking work of narrative nonfiction tells the true story of six-year-old Sachiko Yasui's survival of the Nagasaki atomic bomb on August 9, 1945, and the heartbreaking and lifelong aftermath. Having conducted extensive interviews with Sachiko Yasui, Caren Stelson chronicles Sachiko's trauma and loss as well as her long journey to find peace. This book offers readers a remarkable new perspective on the final moments of World War II and their aftermath.

    "Magnetic and chilling in its simplicity."—The New York Times Book Review

    "A story of staggering hardship and extraordinary resolve. . . . Luminous, enduring, utterly necessary."—starred, Booklist

    "An essential addition to World War II biography collections for middle school students."—starred, School Library Journal

    "Caren Stelson tells Yasui's story with warmth [and] sympathy."—The Washington Post

    NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLIST

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Caren Stelson is an award-winning author of nonfiction books that focus on war and peace themes. She believes young readers want to know the truth about their world and how others find resilience and courage in difficult times. Her work includes Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner A Bowl Full of Peace and Sachiko: A Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivor's Story, which was longlisted for a National Book Award and received a Sibert Honor Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award. Caren and her husband Kim live in Minneapolis. www.carenstelson.com

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 29, 2016
    Fifty years after surviving the atomic bombing of Nagasaki as a six-year-old, Sachiko Yasui began to share her story. This moving work of creative nonfiction offers Yasui’s account of life in wartime Japan, the “unspeakable seconds” of the bombing, her family’s struggle to survive, the deaths of her siblings from radiation sickness, her thyroid cancer, and her decades-long struggle to find words as a hibakusha, a survivor of the bombing. Photographs and short essays on topics that include “Racism and War,” “Little Boy and Fat Man” (code names for the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively), and “Long-Term Effects of Radiation” provide illuminating background. Throughout, Stelson highlights defining moments in Yasui’s life, such as her father’s grief over Gandhi’s death, Helen Keller’s visit to Nagasaki, and Yasui’s awareness of nonviolent protests led by Martin Luther King Jr., which influenced her eventual commitment to speak (“Sachiko knew this: the world must never again see nuclear war”). This powerful narrative account of one person finding her voice after insufferable trauma encapsulates a grim era in global history. Ages 10–up. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from September 1, 2016

    Gr 5-8-Sachiko Yasui was just six years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on her hometown of Nagasaki. On August 9, 1945, she went from playing house with her friends to burying them. Yasui also lost a brother that day and would lose many more family members because of radiation sickness. Growing up, she was ostracized for her status as hibakusha, a bomb survivor. Despite her trauma and the bullying she faced, Yasui endured. She sought out inspiration from the likes of Helen Keller, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. Their works allowed her to make peace with the events in her life. Stelson recounts hearing Yasui speak at a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This event would spark a long and intimate process in which Stelson repeatedly met with and interviewed Yasui in order to tell her story. Frequent historical notes provide context to the events happening in the narrative: Japan's role in World War II, the issue of racism in the war, President Truman's ultimatum, the effects of radiation sickness, the U.S. occupation of Japan after the war, and more. Back matter includes a glossary of Japanese terms used in the book and detailed maps of where events took place. VERDICT This sensitive and well-crafted account of a Nagasaki bomb survivor is an essential addition to World War II biography collections for middle school students.-Deidre Winterhalter, Niles Public Library, IL

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Books about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for young people are plentiful, but very few focus on the hibakusha, survivors of the bombings, and this important biography notably fills that gap. Sachiko Yasui was 6 when an atomic bomb exploded half a mile from her home in Nagasaki. After briefly describing the impact of the war on Sachiko's life, Stelson focuses on the immediate aftermath and the years that followed, culminating in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the bombing, when Sachiko began sharing her experiences publicly. The narrative effectively conveys the long-lasting effects of the bombings, including such radiation-related maladies as leukemia and thyroid cancer. Stelson acknowledges that the "necessity" of the atomic bombing to end the war with Japan is debatable. Although Stelson interviewed Sachiko extensively, direct quotes, which would add significant impact to the narrative, are not used, and oddly absent is any sense of Sachiko's feelings about the bombing. Hibakusha typically speak of the atomic bombings as an important lesson to the world and display a sense of goodwill and understanding rather than animosity or bitterness. There is also no discussion about why the United States bombed Nagasaki so soon after Hiroshima, giving the Japanese so little time to assess and respond to the first attack. An important perspective on the atomic bombings, a controversial decision that continues to provoke passionate debate. (photo, maps, glossary, source notes, bibliography, further reading) (Biography. 12-18) COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2016
    Books about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for young people are plentiful, but very few focus on the hibakusha, survivors of the bombings, and this important biography notably fills that gap. Sachiko Yasui was 6 when an atomic bomb exploded half a mile from her home in Nagasaki. After briefly describing the impact of the war on Sachikos life, Stelson focuses on the immediate aftermath and the years that followed, culminating in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the bombing, when Sachiko began sharing her experiences publicly. The narrative effectively conveys the long-lasting effects of the bombings, including such radiation-related maladies as leukemia and thyroid cancer. Stelson acknowledges that the necessity of the atomic bombing to end the war with Japan is debatable. Although Stelson interviewed Sachiko extensively, direct quotes, which would add significant impact to the narrative, are not used, and oddly absent is any sense of Sachikos feelings about the bombing. Hibakusha typically speak of the atomic bombings as an important lesson to the world and display a sense of goodwill and understanding rather than animosity or bitterness. There is also no discussion about why the United States bombed Nagasaki so soon after Hiroshima, giving the Japanese so little time to assess and respond to the first attack. An important perspective on the atomic bombings, a controversial decision that continues to provoke passionate debate. (photo, maps, glossary, source notes, bibliography, further reading) (Biography. 12-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from September 1, 2016
    Grades 7-10 *Starred Review* As Fat Man hurled toward the city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, Sachiko Yasui, 6, was playing house. She ducked for cover, awaking hours later just half a mile from the bomb's hypocenter, buried beneath mountains of debris, her mouth clogged with ash. Stelson first heard Sachiko speak in August 2005. From 201015, Stelson traveled to and from Nagasaki, conducting a series of five interviews with the singular Sachiko. The result is a story of staggering hardship and extraordinary resolve. In it Stelson outlines the plight of Sachiko, her family, and other hibakusha ( explosion-affected people ), from the Yasuis' lengthy trek to safety in nearby Shimbara and decimating radiation sickness, to the grueling restoration of a barren city. The narrative is further supplemented by two-page educational tidbits interspersed throughout. Here Stelson addresses the Japanese government, Emperor Hirohito, and prime minister Hideki Tojo; internment camps; the U.S.' stifling occupation of Japan; and the long-term effects of radiation. With Sachiko forever in the foreground, readers learn of her grievous loss, devotion to education, regard for peace (and its devotees: Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Keller), and her fairly recent decision to give voice to her experiences. Sachiko and her story, much like the resilient Nagasaki camphor trees she so admires, are an indelible force. Luminous, enduring, utterly necessary.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

  • The Horn Book

    January 1, 2017
    The result of extensive interviews with Nagasaki atomic bomb survivor Sachiko Yasui, Stelson's sensitively crafted account spans fifty years of Yasui's life, starting in August 1945 when the bomb was dropped (she was six years old) and ending in August 1995, when Yasui agreed to speak publicly about her experiences for the first time. Stelson structures her narrative around Yasui's decades-long struggle to find the courage to share her traumatic story with others; her eventual decision to finally speak up--"What happened to me must never happen to you"--is movingly foreshadowed when, years after the bomb, Yasui fights to regain her voice after radiation-related thyroid cancer takes away her ability to talk. Stelson wisely uses a limited-omniscient point of view, allowing readers to see events through Yasui's eyes but not become overwhelmed by the horrors she endured. Her tragic tale is full of terror and despair, but hope and peace also loom large, as Yasui finds strength and inspiration in such figures as Helen Keller, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. Interspersed with ten brief, informative essays ("Racism and War," "Radiation Sickness," "The H-Bomb," etc.) and illustrated with numerous photos, this is a significant addition to the available material. An author's note, a glossary of Japanese words, ample source notes, a bibliography arranged by subject, lists of related books and websites, and an index are appended. jennifer m. brabander

    (Copyright 2017 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

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