Caren Stelson

Caren Stelson

author

PEACE

for all

A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story

A Bowl Full of Peace

A Bowl Full of Peace:
A True Story

writ­ten by Caren Stelson

illus­trat­ed by Akira Kusaka

Carolrhoda Books

ISBN 978–1541521483, grades 6–11

In this deeply mov­ing non­fic­tion pic­ture book, award-winning author Caren Stelson brings Sachiko Yasui’s sto­ry of sur­viv­ing the atom­ic bomb­ing of Nagasaki and her mes­sage of peace to a young audi­ence.

Sachiko’s fam­i­ly home was about half a mile from where the atom­ic bomb fell on August 9, 1945. Her fam­i­ly expe­ri­enced dev­as­tat­ing loss. When they returned to the rub­ble where their home once stood, her father mirac­u­lous­ly found their serv­ing bowl ful­ly intact. This del­i­cate, green, leaf-shaped bowl—which once held their dai­ly meals—now holds mem­o­ries of the past and serves as a ves­sel of hope, peace, and new tra­di­tions for Sachiko and the sur­viv­ing mem­bers of her family.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Lectio Book Award nom­i­nee, Texas, 2021–2022

Minnesota Book Award final­ist 2021

NCTAsia Freeman Award 2021

Nerdies: Best Nonfiction Picture Books 2020

Wanda Gág Read-Aloud Honor Book

RESOURCES

An inter­view with Akira Kusaka

A Note from Caren Stelson with the book’s back­ground, teach­ing ideas, and resources

A Bowl Full of Peace teach­ers’ guide (PowerPoint PDF)

REVIEWS

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Stelson shares this true sto­ry with young read­ers through a thought­ful, mov­ing text. Kusaka’s illus­tra­tions are pow­er­ful and vivid, bring­ing read­ers into Sachiko’s expe­ri­ences and emo­tions. Their chalky, weath­ered tex­ture helps to keep the ter­ri­fy­ing two-spread sequence that depicts the bomb­ing from com­plete­ly over­whelm­ing read­ers. Text and art work togeth­er to show the dev­as­tat­ing, last­ing con­se­quences of war and to con­vey a mes­sage of hope and peace for the future. A heart­break­ing but essen­tial per­spec­tive on war and sur­vival. (author’s note, pho­tos, illustrator’s note, fur­ther reading)

Booklist, starred review

Stelson’s spare, lyri­cal text is heartrend­ing. Kusaka’s dig­i­tal illus­tra­tions have a tex­tured feel, using mut­ed browns and greens for times of peace, and incor­po­rat­ing reds and oranges in times of war. As the fam­i­ly strives to rebuild, the palette light­ens again. Soft lines lend a sense of rev­er­ence and remem­brance, ele­vat­ing the evoca­tive nar­ra­tive to even greater heights. Back mat­ter includes author and illus­tra­tor notes, which fur­ther explain the back­ground of WWII and the impact of the nuclear bomb—plus pho­tographs of Sachiko and her fam­i­ly and fur­ther read­ing sug­ges­tions. A pow­er­ful entry point for dis­cussing the bomb­ing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the impor­tance of peace and dis­ar­ma­ment. Stunning.

The Horn Book, starred review

Each evening Sachiko’s fam­i­ly gath­ers around their table in Nagasaki, Japan. Before the Second World War, Grandmother’s bowl is the cen­ter­piece of every meal, filled with squid, eel, octo­pus, and udon noo­dles; as the war rages on, it con­tains only wheat balls in boiled water. Sachiko is just six years old when the atom­ic bomb drops. She sur­vives the bomb, which kills three of her brothers—one imme­di­ate­ly, and two lat­er from radi­a­tion expo­sure. Surviving fam­i­ly returns to Nagasaki two years lat­er to find their house in ash­es but Grandmother’s bowl unharmed—a sym­bol of sur­vival. Stelson (Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story, rev. 1/17) builds her debut pic­ture book around this one ele­ment of Sachiko’s sto­ry. Kusaka’s illus­tra­tions effec­tive­ly focus on Sachiko’s fam­i­ly and the ways they used the bowl to cre­ate an order­ly fam­i­ly life even in the midst of, and after, a dev­as­tat­ing war. The ceram­ic bowl is the focal point of many of the unclut­tered dig­i­tal paint­ings: placed in the cen­ter of a square table, sur­round­ed with for­mal­ly arranged chop­sticks and dish­es. This image is repeat­ed through the book, pro­vid­ing the read­er with breath­ing space amidst dark images of war. The bomb itself is pow­er­ful­ly shown as a ball of fire in a series of spreads, with red light glow­ing through heavy black clouds. The third-person narrative’s calm, direct tone and the hope­ful end­ing make this dif­fi­cult, sophis­ti­cat­ed mate­r­i­al man­age­able for old­er elementary-school and middle-school chil­dren. An author’s note includes addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion about Japan dur­ing the war, inter­na­tion­al efforts to abol­ish nuclear weapons, and a brief bibliography.

A Bowl Full of Peace

A Bowl Full of Peace:
A True Story

writ­ten by Caren Stelson

illus­trat­ed by Akira Kusaka

Carolrhoda Books

ISBN 978–1541521483, grades 6–11