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The Peace Bell Hardcover – September 30, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3—Based on actual happenings, this gentle picture book promotes peace and illustrates how war impacts individuals in many ways. Framed by the narration of Katie-chan, an American visiting her friend Yuko in Japan, the story is told by Yuko's grandmother to the girls. The woman describes her childhood, recalling the song of an ancient temple bell that was sounded at midnight on New Year's Eve, ringing 108 times to chase away the worries of the world. But, when the war came, it was donated as scrap metal. After the war, the town gradually sprang to life, but Yuko's grandmother felt an empty spot in her heart where the bell's song used to live. Then, one day, the bell came back; it had been found abandoned in a shipyard by American sailors, sent to Minnesota, and finally returned to the town as a symbol of friendship. The simple plot is clearly developed with descriptive language, and an author's note provides more historical details. Done in Japanese acrylic paints, the realistic illustrations accurately portray the setting and capture the characters' various emotions—calmness, anxiety, happiness—as the story unfolds. Cultural details are woven into both text and pictures, and the message of peace between nations is eloquently conveyed.—Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

MARGI PREUS lives in Duluth,Minnesota, where a replica of the Peace Bell now resides.

HIDEKO TAKAHASHI is the illustrator of many books for children, including Come to My Party and Other Shape Poems and In My New Yellow Shirt. She lives in Seattle, Washington.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805078002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805078008
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,773,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Told through the reflections of a Japanese grandmother, this sweet and spunky historical fiction tells the tale of an ancient brass temple bell. The grandmother recalls when she heard the bell in her childhood:"I loved the deep KA-DOON of an ancient temple bell. Its song was as gentle as cherry blossoms, as deep as the Bon Odori drum, and as round and full as the moon." She tells of the special New Year's Eve ringing of the bell - 108 times, "each toll chasing away one of the one hundred and eight worries of the world." Sometime during her pre-teen years, the bell is donated to the shipyards for melting down and making war materials, and the traditional ringing ceases. Years after World War II ends, the bell is discovered in Minnesota, where American sailors had taken it during the war. As a goodwill gesture, the city returns the bell and enshrines it. At the end of the story, the grandmother walks her granddaughter Yuko and her American friend Katie-chan (who happens to live in that Minnesota town where it was discovered) to the shrine of the bell where the two friends joyously ring it.
The colorful acrylic illustrations are authentic and detailed, but simple enough to engage early readers, who might easily relate to the characters.
Based on a true story of one of the thousands of Japanese temple bells that were lost during the war, this c.1686 bell was found in Duluth, MN (where the author also resides) and returned to the city of Ohara in 1954 and dubbed the "American-Japanese Friendship Peace Bell." The cities have forged a sister-city relationship, and, in 1991 Ohara (now called Isumi City) presented Duluth with a matching Peace Bell.
This book could accompany classroom studies on Japan, peace, war, or music traditions. Many schools also have "peace pole" dedications and this book would be a wonderful read-aloud introduction to that activity
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Format: Hardcover
An American girl repeats a story that her friend Yuko's grandmother tells them about the Peace Bell that rings in the town of Ohara, Japan. The grandmother describes lyrically how the sound of the bell rings over the town, "KA-DOON" but then World War Two begins, and the bell is donated to the government to be melted down into metal for the war effort. She describes how much she misses the bell and how she had become a mother with a young baby before the intact bell was returned to the town. "What a celebration there was when the bell came home! The bell was actually found some years after the war in Duluth, Minnesota and, when its origins were determined, it was returned to the people of Ohara. Although, this story about the grandmother is fictional, an author's note documents the facts about the real Ohara bell. In 1991, Isumi City, formerly Ohara, presented a replica of the bell to the town of Duluth, and the two towns now maintain a Sister City relationship. The acrylic paint illustrations are colorful and convey a realistic Japanese setting. This is a touching story for children, ages 5 and up.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Peace Bell" is narrated by a Japanese grandmother, relating the story of how a temple bell that was beloved by everyone in her small Japanese village was donated to the war effort during WW II, missed for many years and presumed lost forever, until it resurfaced almost miraculously years later.

The story was engaging and I loved that it was inspired by true events. Even my 4.5-year-old preschooler kept still whilst I read the story. The illustrations by Hideko Takahashi are gorgeous, especially in depicting the daily rituals in a Japanese village and also of the festivals. The depictions of the colorful kimonos worn by the women in the village are vibrant and festive.

The greater message inherent in this story is of the irony that a bell donated to the war effort to make weapons should survive the war and be returned years later and commemorated as a "peace bell". A powerful message that serves to educate both young and older readers alike. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
Yuko's grandmother tells her a story of when she was a little girl. She tells Yuko that when she was a little girl there was a beautful bell in her town in Japan at the temple. One day war breaks out and things start to change everywhere. The bell is gone, it has been donated to the war effort. It will be melted down and used in making guns and shells. Later after the war is over the bell is found and is returned to Japan where it still hangs today as a symbol of peace!
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