cover image Peace Crane

Peace Crane

Sheila Hamanaka. HarperCollins, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13815-8

Dedicated to ""the children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to all the children everywhere who long for peace,"" this poem takes its inspiration from the true story of 12-year-old Sadako Sasaki, familiar to the many readers of Eleanor Coerr's novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes or Coerr's and Ed Young's picture book Sadako. Dying of leukemia caused by the bombing of Hiroshima, Sadako began to make origami cranes, encouraged by the Japanese belief that folding a thousand paper cranes will bring good health. Where Coerr's story is specific, Hamanaka's (On the Wings of Peace, reviewed below; All the Colors of the Earth) is abstract, most likely too abstract to make a strong impact on young readers. An African American girl asks, ""If I make a paper peace crane/ from a crisp white paper square,/ if I fold my dreams inside the wings,/ will anybody care?"" Explaining her fears of the shootings on her street, the child confides that Peace Crane came for her in a dream, and together they flew over mountains, forests and oceans, where they listened to ""lullabies sung by whales till our troubles disappeared."" Well-intentioned, the final plea comes perilously close to the formulaic: ""We long to be a part/ of a world without borders,/ of a world without guns,/ of a world that loves its children,/ each and every one."" Portraying in turn ominous images of violence and luminous symbols of peace, Hamanaka's dramatic oil paintings may, like the verse, prove too conceptual to engage children. All ages. (Aug.)