Stelson, Caren. A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 2020.
Sachiko was six years old on August 9, 1945 when an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. War had already come to Japan. People were already going hungry from lack of food and hiding in air raid shelters built into the hillsides. When the bomb dropped, one of Sachiko’s brothers was killed, and the rest of the family became ill and slowly started dying of radiation sickness. Sachiko’s remaining family members continued to gather around grandmother’s bowl every evening – just as they had before the war – to offer thanks for their food. But once a year, they instead filled the bowl with ice and – as it melted – also prayed for peace. This quietly heart-breaking story of courage, poignantly illustrated by Akira Kusaka, is highly recommended for readers seven years old and up.
P.S. Writers – and teachers of writing – notice how the story is written in present tense even though it really happened long ago. How does that make the story more powerful? How does it help readers – and listeners – enter the story? Notice, as well, how the story starts with the bowl passed from mother to daughter. How can this family custom help readers identify with the characters in the story? Notice how sight and sound, taste and touch, are all part of the story. Notice the use of repeated words and phrases, the use of short sentences for emphasis, and how the few spoken sentences in quotations summarize the whole story.