Kathleen Burkinshaw, "The Last Cherry Blossom" (Sky Pony, 2020)


Manage episode 345502507 series 2421492
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Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and since the Japanese newspapers don’t report lost battles, the Japanese people are not entirely certain of where Japan stands. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbours who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bombs hit Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.

This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s first-hand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom (Sky Pony Press, 2020) hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.

Kathleen Burkinshaw is a Japanese American author and the daughter of a Hiroshima survivor residing in Charlotte, NC. She’s a wife, mom, and owns a dog who thinks she’s a kitchen ninja. Writing gives her an outlet for her daily struggle with chronic pain from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. In 2019 she spoke about her mother’s experience in Hiroshima at the United Nations (NYC). This summer she spoke at UN worldwide virtual events as well as a Japanese American National Museum webinar with author Naomi Hirahara in honor of the 75th anniversary of atomic bombing. Kathleen has been featured on PBS, local NPR stations, Asian American magazines/newspapers, both Japanese and English programs on NHK World Japan, as well as in 2 major Japanese newspapers. She has presented to middle/high schools around the world for the past 10 years. The Last Cherry Blossom, is now a United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs Resource for Teachers and Students. And nominated for NC School Library Media Association YA book award and 2019-2020 VSBA, 2018 & 2016 Scholastic WNDB Reading Club selection, and a Finalist for the NC Sir Walter Raleigh Fiction Award, 2018 Sakura Medal, Japan, and 2016 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award (southeast region).

Bing Wang receives her PhD at the University of Leeds in 2020. Her research interests include the exploration of overseas Chinese cultural identity and critical heritage studies.

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