cover image Shin's Tricycle

Shin's Tricycle

Tatsuharu Kodama. Walker & Company, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8375-2

Kodama, a native of Hiroshima who survived the 1945 atomic attack, relates a disturbing but undeniably powerful true account of one family's experience during that devastating explosion. The narrator is a father of three; as the bomb drops on the city, his three-year-old son, Shin, is riding his cherished tricycle. Barely alive and pinned under a house beam, Shin is still gripping his red handlebars. Unable to save their two daughters from the fires that erupt, the parents rush Shin to the river, but he dies that night. His parents bury the tricycle alongside him. Forty years later, while digging up their children's graves from the lawn to place their remains in a cemetery, they find the tricycle. It is put (and remains today) on display in Hiroshima's Peace Museum. The author doesn't cushion the horror in his tale, and certain passages-of burn victims screaming for water yet dying when they drank it; of Shin's father finding the ``little bones'' of his deceased daughters-are harsh fare for young readers. Similarly, several of Ando's illustrations-of Shin's father straining to lift the beam that trapped his child; the glaring, yellow flash of the explosion-are at least as frightening as they are effective. Despite the volume's picture-book format, age guidelines should be observed here. Ages 7-10. (Aug.)