The Peace Bell

The Peace Bell

5.0 1
by Margi Preus, Hideko Takahashi
     
 

Yuko's grandmother remembers that when she was a little girl many years ago in Japan, her town's beautiful temple bell was taken away to be used as scrap metal for the war effort. She thought she'd never see it again. After the war the bell was brought to America by a U. S. Navy crew who found it abandoned in a Japanese shipyard. Most amazing of all, the bell was

Overview

Yuko's grandmother remembers that when she was a little girl many years ago in Japan, her town's beautiful temple bell was taken away to be used as scrap metal for the war effort. She thought she'd never see it again. After the war the bell was brought to America by a U. S. Navy crew who found it abandoned in a Japanese shipyard. Most amazing of all, the bell was later returned to Japan as a gesture of friendship between the former warring countries. Told in evocative prose, this inspiring story based on the American-Japanese Friendship Peace Bell celebrates peace between nations.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Dianne Ochiltree
Yuko from Japan and Katie from America are friends because of a beautiful temple bell. If this sounds like a long story, it is—because it's one that began many years before either of these young girls were born. Most of the story is told through the first-person narration of Yuko's grandmother, who remembers the bell from when she was their age—how its sweet, deep tones rang out a special song for village festivals throughout the year, how its peaceful music was loved by villagers, and how, at the beginning of World War II, it was taken away to be used as scrap metal for the war effort. Most poignant is the narrator's assertion that while it was important to support her country's effort "…it seemed wrong to make a peaceful bell into weapons." The war eventually ends and Yuko's grandmother grows up, yet still she holds out hope that the peaceful bell will someday return. Amazingly, it does! The picture book is based on the true story of a temple bell that was found in a Japanese shipyard by an American naval crew and taken to Duluth, Minnesota (the naval ship's namesake) where it lived in anonymity for several years. After its hometown was identified at last, a copy of the bell was made for display in America, and the original was ceremoniously returned to Japan as a gesture of friendship between the formerly warring countries. The fictional picture book story returns at the end to present day Japan, as Yuko and Katie ring the peace bell together, with Yuko's grandmother smiling at their side. The language is gentle, skillfully evoking a time and place long ago in ways that today's child will understand. This is a sweet story that strikes just the right balance betweenhistorical facts and the human drama played out on the home front during wartime. Many interesting cultural details and Japanese terms are woven into the story. The full-color paintings by Hideko Takahashi convey expressive emotions and accurate detail equally well in a playful, cheery, kid-friendly manner. The theme of peace and friendship is perennially valuable—particularly so in light of world events today—and, as presented in this hardcover historical fiction picture book, will provide much for young readers to think about. Reviewer: Dianne Ochiltree
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

Based on actual happenings, this gentle picture book promotes peace and illustrates how war impacts individuals in many ways. Framed by the narration of Katie-chan, an American visiting her friend Yuko in Japan, the story is told by Yuko's grandmother to the girls. The woman describes her childhood, recalling the song of an ancient temple bell that was sounded at midnight on New Year's Eve, ringing 108 times to chase away the worries of the world. But, when the war came, it was donated as scrap metal. After the war, the town gradually sprang to life, but Yuko's grandmother felt an empty spot in her heart where the bell's song used to live. Then, one day, the bell came back; it had been found abandoned in a shipyard by American sailors, sent to Minnesota, and finally returned to the town as a symbol of friendship. The simple plot is clearly developed with descriptive language, and an author's note provides more historical details. Done in Japanese acrylic paints, the realistic illustrations accurately portray the setting and capture the characters' various emotions-calmness, anxiety, happiness-as the story unfolds. Cultural details are woven into both text and pictures, and the message of peace between nations is eloquently conveyed.-Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA

Kirkus Reviews
A terribly earnest fictionalized version of an actual event. A girl named Katie is visiting her friend Yuko in Japan, and Yuko's grandmother tells them a story. As a child, she had loved the sound of the temple bell, rung 108 times at midnight on New Year's Eve. But during World War II, the bell was shipped away with many others to be used as scrap metal for the war effort. Even as the grandmother grew up, married and had a child, she always missed the deep, sweet sound of the bell. Years after the war, the bell, which American sailors had found and shipped to Minnesota, was returned to its home in Japan as a gesture of friendship. Takahashi's lovely acrylics are as sweet and precise as the text, which includes a few Japanese words. The author's note at the end, however, which recounts the real history, begs the question: With such an interesting story at the book's root, why not tell it instead of making something up? (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805078008
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
09/30/2008
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

MARGI PREUS lives in Duluth,Minnesota, where a replica of the Peace Bell now resides.

HIDEKO TAKAHASHI is the illustrator of many books for children, including Come to My Party and Other Shape Poems and In My New Yellow Shirt. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

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The Peace Bell 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
storiesforchildren More than 1 year ago
This fantastic book is based on a true story. During WWII, many Japanese towns donated their temple bells to the country's scrap metal drives. A few escaped the smelter, including one from the city of Ohara, which was found after the war - totally intact - by navy crewmembers from the American ship, USS DULUTH. The ship's crew took the bell and subsequently donated it to the city of Duluth, Minnesota. Years later, thanks to the efforts of a visiting Japanese professor, the bell was returned to its place of origin, where it was renamed The American-Japanese Friendship Peace Bell. Eventually, a Sister Cities relationship blossomed between the two cities and in 1991, Ohara presented Duluth with a replica of the bell.

Author Margi Preus weaves a wonderful story of Yuko and her American friend from Duluth, Katie, who is visiting in Ohara. Yuko's grandmother tells the girls the story of the ancient temple bell in their village, how as a child she loved to listen to it ring, her disappointment when it was taken away, and how the city celebrated at its eventual and unlikely return. At the end of the story, the two girls ring the bell and feel its song of peace and good will in their hearts.

Brought alive by the extraordinary text of Margi Preus and the distinctive, colorful and detailed illustrations of Hideko Takahashi, I give this book a High Five for the message of peace and love it brings to children everywhere. It is destined to be a true classic.
Gayle Jacobson-Huset Managing Editor
Stories for Children Magazine