My Hiroshima by Junko Morimoto
Lothian, 2014 (c1987). ISBN 9780734416025
(Ages: all) Highly recommended. War. Hiroshima. World War Two. Nuclear bombs. Survival. Cancer. Death. First published in 1987, this book received worldwide acclaim, and is used extensively in classrooms where Peace is under discussion. A tale of the impact of war upon families, particularly children, this memoir is as potent today as it was when first published. Junko's recollections of that day, August 6, 1945, are told with few words, the images revealing the horror of the attack and its aftermath, its results causing death for decades to come. Drawings that reprise the subtlety and intimacy of Japanese watercolours, line drawings reflecting aspects of families' lives, images emulating photographs span the pages highlighting the effect on the city's children. No bomb had ever been dropped like this one, no devastation was as overwhelming, no city so completely laid bare. And all this is reflected here.
The central images of the bomb falling from the plane overhead, so far removed it can barely be seen, divide the book into two parts. The first shows the gentle activities of the families, going about their daily lives, unaware of the danger above. The bomb falls, turning them upside down, leaving people shocked beyond belief, their skin falling from them in sheets, children searching for dead parents, people whose bodies are still burning hours and days after. The images after the falling of this bomb are heart-wrenching, and will initiate much discussion in classes where this book is presented.
At a time where war is being commemorated over the world with anniversaries of the beginning of World War One, the travesty of Gallipoli and seventy years since the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, this is a timely reprint, one which will take centre stage in class discussions and units of work, reminding children that those who are most affected by war are people like them, the innocents, the children, those who have taken no part in it at all. This is a book to be cherished and revisited time and time again as our world still tumbles into war, sweeping all in its path.
Junko says in her afterword, 'It is our responsibility to teach our children to respect human life and value nature,' and this is reflected in every word and image in this timely republishing.