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The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: The Little Bonsai with a Big Story Hardcover – July 14, 2015
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K-Gr 2—Based on actual events, this picture book tells the story of an almost 400-year-old bonsai tree that survived the Hiroshima bombing. The small pine tree began its life on the beautiful forested island of Miyajima, near Hiroshima. A man named Itaro found the tree and carefully removed it, as "a souvenir of this island, of the trees that touched my heart." Itaro cared for it for 50 years and shaped it into a bonsai tree. Itaro's family continued to look after the tree for generations. Eventually the family moved to Hiroshima, and when the first atomic bomb was dropped, it exploded just two miles from their home. Somehow the family survived the terrible devastation and resumed their routine, including caring for their bonsai. In 1976, Masaru, a devoted caretaker of the tree since before the war, chose to give the plant as part of a special bicentennial gift to the United States. The little bonsai ended up at the National Arboretum, where the staff deemed it the Peace Tree. Presented against a crisp white background, the attractive illustrations add details and context. Told in the first person from the tree's point of view, this gentle story can be used as a simple introduction to an aspect of Japanese culture and a difficult moment in history. Facts about bonsai trees round out the book. VERDICT This slight but clearly told story would be a fine additional purchase to supplement cultural studies of Japan.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
"…tells of the aging of devoted caregivers over three centuries until it survives a cataclysmic event and an overseas voyage to become a symbol of international friendship." —Friends Journal
"If you are looking to instill a bit of history and culture into your child, this is a great book." —Parenting Healthy blog
"This is a story about the art of caring. Its message will speak to the heart of any child who reads it and nourish his or her roots in the process." —Ron Himler, illustrator of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
"…this 350-year-old bonsai had survived the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima! No one in America knew anything about this until then. The survival of this old bonsai, which had been sitting on a bench behind a wall at the Yamaki home not far from the epicenter of the blast, was in and of itself astonishing. But just as amazing were the facts that Mr. Yamaki had not mentioned this critical fact when he donated the bonsai, that he had given such a masterpiece to America, his former enemy, and that in making the gift Mr. Yamaki must have been forgiving America for dropping the bomb on his home city. In an instant, the Yamaki Pine became an international symbol of peace." —Felix Laughlin, President of the National Bonsai Foundation
"I would recommend this book to children who are eager to learn about history from other cultures and as a starter to get kids interested in nature. The story is personal and sentimental, but is able to cross the bridge from nature to other cultures." —Washington Gardener magazine
"Picture books that deal with adult themes can be difficult to get right, particularly when there's war involved but this one manages to light up some dark material. Based on true events, the titular tree is a white pine that was taken from its home as a seedling and trimmed into bonsai form. As it grew it was passed down from generation to generation and even survived the bombing at Hiroshima. The more-than-300-year old tree was eventually sent to America at part of her 200th birthday celebrations, a symbol of friendship between the two formerly warring countries." —Sydney Morning Herald
"First-time author Moore draws from the story of a centuries-old bonsai tree that was donated to the United States for the 1976 bicentennial. Closing notes separate fact from fiction and discuss the art of bonsai in this straightforward but affecting tribute to patience, dedication, and a generosity of spirit that surmounted tragedy." —Publishers Weekly
"Fairy tale-sounding this may seem, but the ending 'Author's Note' will reveal just how true this inspiring story actually is. A first book for journalist Sandra Moore, Peace Tree couldn't be a better choice to begin an authorly career." —Smithsonian BookDragon
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