Author Caren Stelson, in the preface to her new book “Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story,” states that on August 6, 2005, at 8:15 a.m., a crowd gathered in Lyndale Park Peace Garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was part of the crowd who were at the park to commemorate the end of World War II. The time and date marked the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
After the bell tolled in remembrance of those events, a Japanese woman spoke to the crowd. Her name was Sachiko Yasui. She was a survivor of the bombing at Nagasaki.
Stelson was so moved by Sachiko’s experience that she promised herself that if she had the chance she would write Sachiko’s story. More than a year later, Stelson heard from her. Sachiko agreed to her proposal with one condition. Sachiko would tell her story “only if she could look into my eyes.”
Six-year-old Sachiko was playing outside with her friends when the bomb dropped. She was a half a mile from the hypocenter. Her four friends died instantly, as did her two-year-old brother. All the other members of her family survived that day, but within days one by one each member died or suffered terribly from radiation sickness.
Stelson tells Sachiko’s story, but also provides middle school readers historical background to under the events of that period in world history. The book is filled with photographs, maps, detailed footnotes, a bibliography and even a glossary of Japanese words.
Besides offering the reader a true story of the effects of the bombing at Nagasaki, it also offers a reader a story of hope and a young girl’s journey to find peace.