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Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes Review

Posted on June 26, 2024, by Mary Ann McGivern SL

A Sadakao statue: a young girl with a pony tail holding up a book with a bird emerging from the open book, and a plain white wall background.

The Loretto Peace Committee decided last August to promote Eleanor Coerr’s historical novel for children about an 11-year-old named Sadako.

Sadako [Sa da’ ko] is a healthy girl, a runner on the middle school track team, who lives in a happy family in Hiroshima, Japan, 10 years after the atomic bomb was dropped. Sadako gets leukemia and dies slowly, always hoping to live. It is a shocking book for an adult to read, but children wonder about death. I remember how, when I was 9 or 10, I read “Little Women” and identified with Beth, who dies.

Sadako’s path is tender and engaging. The book isn’t about World War II or dropping the bomb or who is to blame. It is about one child victim of war and how she copes. Sadako dies of leukemia before she can fold the 1,000 paper cranes she hopes will save her life. Her classmates fold the remaining 356 cranes and all 1,000 are buried with her.

The afterward tells about how Sadako’s classmates and teachers built a statue of her as a call for peace and collected her letters and journals into a 90-page tribute. That tribute became Coerr’s source for writing the book. The afterward also includes instructions for folding a paper crane.

Some years back, the Peace Committee commissioned a statue of Sadako by sculptor Jerry Boyle, Co-member Kathy Santapietro Weddel’s brother-in-law. The statue traveled around Loretto for some years and then seemingly disappeared. It has reappeared in the Loretto Archives and is available to go on tour. Sister Roberta Hudlow once had the statue in her public school art room for a semester, inspiring children with her story.

The Peace Committee has sent copies of the book to Loretto schools and teachers. This summer the Motherhouse Peace Committee will give away a dozen books at the Ag Bash on Saturday Aug. 3, 2024. Consider giving a book to a teacher, friend or your great niece. 


Mary Ann McGivern SL

Mary Ann recently moved from St. Louis to the Loretto Motherhouse in Kentucky. She is searching for entry points into Marian County, Ky., civic life — funding the day care center, improving jail services, helping stop a pipeline through Bernheim Forest. She is on the roster of homilists at Loretto Chapel’s Sunday Communion service. Mary Ann has been a Sister of Loretto since 1960.
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