Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

A Bowl Full Of Peace (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Caren Stelson Illustrated by Akira Kusaka
Published by Katherine Tegen Books (2020)
ISBN: 0062430157 (ISBN13: 9780062430151) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Sachiko Yasui was six years old when the Enola Gay detonated an atomic bomb in her city of Nagasaki. While I have read quite a few stories about the Hiroshima bombing and World War II and Japan’s role in it, stories like this one humanize the historical accounts found in tepid and uninspired textbooks.

The story begins with Grandmother’s precious bowl: the same bowl that has held thumbprints of Sachiko’s family members, now deceased; the bowl that held comfort meals, and miraculously survived the aftermath of war. As one flips through the pages of this book, one sees Sachiko’s family growing; their attempts to lead normal lives, even while at the edge of fighting; the soldiers marching right outside their homes and the skies filled with threatening darknesses.

The illustrations of Akira Kusaka were stark and gripping – complementing the matter-of-fact, sparse, distilled narrative of Caren Stelson. I especially appreciated reading the Illustrator’s Note found at the end of the book:

… many people of my generation think of war as an ‘incident from a textbook’ and feel that it is something that happens only in a movie or a novel. I am one of them. I think I understand the horror of war and the threat of nuclear weapons, but I do not believe I can truly understand how terrible a real-life war is.

When I received the offer to illustrate this book. I was nervous. I wondered if I, who have not experienced war, should accept. However, I also wondered how many opportunities in life I would have to illustrate such a story. I realized it might be a chance for me to learn about war afresh. It was a challenge.

This is a story that demonstrates how war keeps on taking and taking and taking from families and nations – even decades after it has supposedly ended. It has ripple effects that are lasting and unprecedented. However, kindness also has a similar ripple effect – and compassion – and the commitment to do good. This miraculous bowl of Sachiko’s grandmother, a testament to the preservation of peace, is a reflection of one’s capacity to not just survive but do something meaningful with the gift of life that has been given.

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 11 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

0 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Bowl Full Of Peace

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