This is not a book I can recommend. The pacing was uneven. The interactions among the teens didn't always seem authentic. Some of the spy stuff was haThis is not a book I can recommend. The pacing was uneven. The interactions among the teens didn't always seem authentic. Some of the spy stuff was hard to follow or believe. Also, this was very much an outsider perspective. The only developed characters were American. If you are wanting to learn about Iran, this is not the book to read. I wanted to like it, but couldn't....more
The Last Cherry Blossom pulled me into the past and held me there from beginning to end. Yuriko and her family are living inReview copy: Digital ARC
The Last Cherry Blossom pulled me into the past and held me there from beginning to end. Yuriko and her family are living in wartime Japan and the author brings readers into their daily life. I thought that the book was mostly going to be about the bomb in Hiroshima, but the vast majority of the book is about life before the bomb. Readers get to see into the everyday activities and worries of children during the war. It was interesting to find out that in the media the government was narrating a story about the war that was inconsistent with what was actually happening. Though the news was announcing victories, you see the clues piling up that show a country at the end of its rope. There is no more metal for constructing more planes, they're looking for alternative fuel because they are running out and they have enough workers to be making more things, but there simply aren't enough supplies.
Aside from the war issues, Yuriko is slowly discovering secrets within her family. These secrets will shake her world. Fortunately, Yuriko has a good support system. I love seeing Yuriko's relationships with her family and with her best friend Machiko. Again, the author seemed to aim for showing everyday interactions and typical activities. I really got a sense of what life would have been like for a wealthy young Japanese girl during the war. With Machiko, we also got to see what it was like for someone with less money and standing. Machiko eventually has to start working in a factory by order of the government.
And then there is the bomb. Obviously, that is a disturbing part of the book. There is no way to make that day easy to recount. The fear, death, pain, and gruesomeness of such an event is evident. This is an ugly piece of history seen through the eyes of a young girl. War is terrifying and deadly. It's a truth expressed clearly through Yuriko's experiences. This would be an excellent book to use for discussion around war and how it affects the individual people in a country.
Readers may want to have some tissues handy, but Yuriko does have a bit of hope at the end which keeps it from being entirely overwhelming for sensitive readers.
Following the story, Burkinshaw provides an afterword explaining how the book came to be. It was loosely based on memories of her mother who grew up in Hiroshima and was twelve when the bomb was dropped. She also included a selected bibliography and information about the Japanese words in the book along with a glossary. One thing that had a big impact on me was the page of statistics. When I looked at the numbers after having been immersed in the lives of the people affected, I was overwhelmed. 80,000 people died immediately and 140,000+ died within the next five years. The loss of life is staggering.
Recommendation: This is an excellent choice for readers who enjoy historical fiction. It would be a great addition to classroom and school libraries especially if WWII is part of the curriculum and would be perfect for a book club or discussion group....more
This was especially interesting book to me because for whatever reason, I didn't realize there was a Canadian football league until my most recent triThis was especially interesting book to me because for whatever reason, I didn't realize there was a Canadian football league until my most recent trip to Canada. I found myself in a restaurant with a game on and I couldn't place the teams though it looked like an NFL game.
Here is a story of a fabulous football player who is excluded from quarterbacking in the NFL simply by the color of his skin. It's told by the daughter of the quarterback Chuck Ealey.
This is a piece of history that I think will definitely interest my students. The issue of racism is one that needs to be seen from many different angles.
I'm also always happy to find good picture books about sports....more
There were many things in this book that were never addressed in my high school or even college U.S. History classes. I think more LGBTQ history textsThere were many things in this book that were never addressed in my high school or even college U.S. History classes. I think more LGBTQ history texts are definitely needed.
Like a few others mentioned in their reviews, the activities didn't seem to match the target age group of the text. The text seemed to be aimed for middle school age, but the activities were mostly at the elementary level. I felt they were not necessary or very helpful....more