MG – Soul Lanterns

Kuzki, Shaw. Soul Lanterns. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2021. 978-0-593-17434-0. 162 p. $16.99. Grades 5-8.

Each August, Nozomi and her family release lanterns on the river to guide the souls of lost loved ones. The year she turns twelve, an unsettling encounter with a stranger at the ceremony makes Nozomi wonder about her mother’s past, and about the stories of other adults who lived through the Hiroshima bombing of 1945.  Nozomi likes art, and for an upcoming art showcase, she and three school friends ask relatives and community members to relate heartbreaking stories from “the flash” that they lived through before the children were born. This school project prompts the friends to create moving works of art to remember those that were lost. Ultimately, their works of art help the children to better understand the significance of the lantern ceremony. As Nozomi’s art teacher says at the end of the book, releasing the lanterns helps those in the community not only remember lost loved ones from the tragedy of the bomb, but also “remember the question of why such an awful thing happened.”

THOUGHTS: This story is told from the fascinating perspective of Hiroshima children who do not fully grasp the significance of the Hiroshima bombing because it occurred before they were born, and considerable character growth occurs when they find out through stories and family members what really happened on that terrible day. Many cultural references and Japanese words throughout the book make for a rich reading experience. Although there are descriptions of death and suffering which sensitive students may find disturbing, the author does an excellent job of describing the tragedy of the Hiroshima bomb with sensitivity and respect. This book will inspire readers to look more deeply into the history and ethics of nuclear warfare. Translated from Japanese.

Historical Fiction          Erin Faulkner, Cumberland Valley SD

Elem. – Asian Animals (Series NF)

Hansen, Grace. Asian Animals. Abdo, 2021. $20.95 ea. $125.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades K-2. 

Bengal Tiger. 978-1-0982-0592-8.
Giant Panda. 978-1-0982-0593-5.
Great Hornbill. 978-1-0982-0594-2.
Indian Cobra. 978-1-0982-0595-9.
Pangolin. 978-1-0982-0596-6.
Water Buffalo. 978-1-0982-0597-3. 

The continent of Asia is home to many amazing and unique animals, six of which are featured in this new series for early readers from Abdo. Each oversize volume informs readers about the habitat, characteristics, and lifestyle of the spotlighted animal. This reviewer had the opportunity to read the volume on Giant Pandas. Each two-page spread of the volume featured a high-quality photo accompanied by corresponding text. Readers learn about the habitat of the giant panda, it’s diet of bamboo, how young are raised, and more. As with most Abdo titles, a code in the back of the book allows readers to access supplemental material (video, activities, and more) online.

THOUGHTS: This series is sure to hold appeal for primary readers. The oversize high-quality photos will be sure to engage the interest of even the casual animal fan. For libraries looking to expand their animal collections, this series featuring both common (tiger, panda) and unique (pangolin, water buffalo) animals merits consideration.

590s Animals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD