I was lucky enough to win a copy of The Last Paper Crane from Readers First and it was a genuine joy to read. That might sound strange given that it is about the horrors of Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bomb but this is so beautifully written that I practically read it in a single sitting.
Published by Hot Key Books, The Last Paper Crane is aimed at a slightly younger reader than myself but it didn’t stop me enjoying the story. The book is divided into three parts. Initially we meet Mizuki, who writes in verse, and her grandfather. We learn of a secret in his past that weighs heavily upon him and makes him melancholic and unsettled. In the second part we hear his story, beginning on that fateful day on the 6th of August 1945. We learn of the promises he made and the toll these have taken over the years. Finally we return Mizuki and her response to learning about these events.
The illustrations used really complement the storyline and the paper crane instructions at the end are a really lovely touch.
I really liked how Kerry has managed to take a very sad and difficult part of history and write such a beautiful story around it. The mix of verse and prose works very well. There are some really heartbreaking lines but also some inspirational and uplifting ones too. The reader gains a sense of the terror and the loss from that day but by focusing on a few people it allows a more personal connection and makes it easier for a younger reader to process. Whilst in no way minimising the absolute tragedy of that time, The Last Paper Crane introduces this period of history in a manageable way. There are a lot of important messages wrapped within the novel and I think it will leave a lasting impression on those who read it.