The story of “Hiroshima’s most famous victim” is matched to delicate sepia illustrations decorated with images of brightly patterned origami cranes.
Oozing sentimentality so gooey it’s a wonder the pages can be separated, this version of the often told tale is narrated by Sadako's cat. It opens with a peaceful August morning overshadowed by a “huge black cloud” before cutting ahead 10 years to Sadako’s hospitalization. The cat curls up in her lap to share visions of future outings together (which seems at best an insensitive brand of comfort). The cat recounts how the girl “fell gently asleep and flew away with 1000 paper cranes” and then embarks on a mission to “carry Sadako’s story out into the world.” Though the numerous folded cranes shine out against pale backdrops in the fine-lined illustrations, Loske depicts the cat as disquietingly eyeless until a final view and, along with Sadako and the other white-faced human figures, with fiery red cheek patches that look like clown makeup. In her afterword, the author assures readers that Sadako “actually lived,” but this mannered, anemic portrayal of that life isn’t likely to make them care.
A pretty but overworked addition to the well-stocked shelf of tributes to a silent but nonetheless eloquent voice for peace. (Picture book. 6-8)