cover image Mieko and the Fifth Treasure

Mieko and the Fifth Treasure

Eleanor Coerr. Putnam Publishing Group, $14.99 (77pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22434-8

The devastating effects of the bombing of Japan described in Coerr's Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes are evoked here in the stirring story of Mieko, a gifted calligrapher and artist. After her hand is badly injured in the bombing, the frightened and embittered girl is sent to stay with her grandparents in the country. Mieko fears she has lost the fifth treasure, the ``beauty in the heart'' which holds the key to her artwork. At her new school, she is taunted by some cruel classmates, and the anger she feels only deepens her sense of misery and loss. Eventually, she is lifted from her dark state by the patience and wisdom of her comforting grandparents and through the friendship of Yoshi, a gentle classmate. Mieko's recovery is further aided by Yoshi's Aunt Hisako, a stern but generous woman who goads Mieko into picking up her brushes once more. (Hisako's disappearance from the story proves mildly confusing, leaving her more of a device than a fleshed-out character.) Overall, this is a sensitively and beautifully crafted story that juxtaposes the strength of Japanese art and philosophy with the complex emotional wake of the bombing. Once again, this author has created a vivid portrait of courage, drawn from a time that deserves to be remembered. Ages 7-11. (Apr.)