as well as endings. It is like the season changing after the last cherry blossom falls.”
Author Kathleen Burkinshaw wrote The Last Cherry Blossom based on the experiences of her mother, a survivor of the US bombing of Hiroshima. This novel recounts the events before, during, and after the bombing. But this novel is not about the political maneuverings of nations at war. It is the story of a child and her daily life -- a story about family, friendship, family secrets, and the devastating consequences of the atomic bomb. Ms. Burkinshaw’s mother had never wanted to discuss what she had experienced as she found it too painful. When she finally told her daughter her story, it was in the hopes that people would learn, “that the use of nuclear weapons against any country or people, for any reason, is unacceptable.” Ms. Burkinshaw expresses her mother’s story sensitively, simply, and movingly.
Most of this work of historical fiction conveys Yuriko’s life before the bombing. Yuriko’s perspective is that of a young girl who is starting to see things from a more mature perspective (not an adult, but not quite a child). While Yuriko’s daily life descriptions include school projects, being unnerved by the regular air-raid sirens warning of American bomber planes and cultural events, it also relates how Yuriko is aware that her family is trying to shield her from information about the war. Yuriko notices her father’s worries and the sorrowful eyes of her neighbors whose sons and spouses have not returned from the fighting. I appreciated Ms. Burkinshaw’s detailed descriptions of significant events such as the cherry blossom festival and her father’s wedding. While she spends time on these important events, she also takes care to describe daily scenes like the placement of her shoes, the opening of screen doors to change room configurations, shortages of metal and sugar, and details such as fabric and clothing.
The novel takes a dramatic turn once the bomb lands on Hiroshima. The descriptions are not graphic, but they are harrowing and convey the confusion and despair that Yuriko feels during and immediately after the bombing. She also captures the emptiness, guilt and sorrow that replace all of Yuriko’s emotions for months afterwards.
Yuriko experiences great loss, but the novel ends on a hopeful note. Yuriko remembers her father’s words about having to change with the time just as the last cherry blossom falls to bring in a new season. Yuriko is a survivor and she will find a way to adapt.
I highly recommend The Last Cherry Blossom. Ms. Burkinshaw addresses the difficult reality survivors faced after the bombing of Hiroshima without glossing over the horror and, yet, also providing the reader with hope.
Thank you to Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 and it’s wonderful sponsors and co-hosts for providing me with the opportunity to review The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw as part of MCBD 2019. Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. Please see details at the end of this post for information about sponsors, co-hosts, MCBD’s Twitter party, and information about free resources from MCBD.
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!
*View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-
*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-2eN
Medallion Level Sponsors
Honorary: Children’s Book Council, The Junior Library Guild, TheConsciousKid.org.
Super Platinum: Make A Way Media
GOLD: Bharat Babies, Candlewick Press, Chickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcito, KidLitTV, Lerner Publishing Group, Plum Street Press,
SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Carole P. Roman, Author Charlotte Riggle, Huda Essa, The Pack-n-Go Girls,
BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift, T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board
Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini,
Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Lori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts
A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details.
FREE RESOURCES From MCBD
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.