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International Literature Book #3


Maruki, Toshi.  Hiroshima no pika. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1980. ISBN: 0-688-01297-3.
Hiroshima No Pika means in English, The Flash of Hiroshima.  The book  is an astonishing revelation of what happend in Hiroshima on the morning of August 6, 1945.  It depicts how life was in Hiroshima before, during, and after the United States dropped the nuclear bomb.   Mii's life was simple and peaceful before the bomb was dropped, and everything changed completely in a few minutes.  Within those few minutes, she lost her home, city, and later she lost her father.  This horrible events marked her permanently for life not only physically but also emotionally. 
The story shows us how residents of Hiroshima lived before and after the bomb was dropped.  Mii and her father were having sweet potatoes for breakfast because that was the only thing available during the war although they preferrred to eat rice instead.  Mii was holding the chopsticks during the terrible flash and could not open her hand to release them for four days until her mother opened her hand one finger at a time.  Mentioning the chopsticks is important because it makes the reader understand that Mii was using them as utensils to eat instead of the fork and spoon we use in the United States.   The book mentions that after the bomb, on every August 6 the people of Hiroshima inscribe the names of the loved ones they lost during the terrible flash on a lantern.  This shows us how the people in Hiroshima mourn for their dead.
The book is intended for children all over the world to understand what Mii and her family went through on this terrible day that changed their world and way of life forever.    It is written in simple text using simple ideas that children may relate to.  For example, the fact that Mii did not grow any more after the flash is very relevant to children who are growing everyday and know that they will continue to grow until they reach their full adult size. 
The illustrations in the book in dark pastel colors show the events  in a very impressing and emotional way.   The fact that many of figures are naked make a great statement.  I believe it shows how the terrible flash left Hiroshima residents bare of everything material they once possesed.  They were left totally exposed and vulnerable.   However, we need to explain this to teenagers and children who may be intimidatied by the naked drawings.    
Eduardo, 13 years old, thinks that the book explains in a simple way what happend to Mii on this day.   He said he knew in a general way what happend in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, but he had never stopped to think about the impact it had on individuals and families.  He said now he feels the sorrow that Japanese felt after Hiroshima was destroyed.
This is a great book that should be used to teach children to understand the pain and greif that people in Japan went through during the terrible flash in order to prevent anything similar to happen again in the future in any part of the world.   It is our duty to teach our youth about the mistakes of the past so that they can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

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