Wait, wait, I’m not talking revisionist history here, not about “taking sides” or rewriting it to suit our purposes…I’m talking about historical fiction.
Many years ago I discovered this genre when I had a daughter who loved to read and was bored to tears with history. In that ever-seeking way that many of us homeschooling moms have, I pondered and researched and talked to other moms and discovered that this resource made all the difference.
For those of you new to the genre, historical fiction takes a fictional character, places them in an actual point of time or historical setting, and fills out what the day-to-day details of what their life would most likely look like. The best books include details that pull the reader in, that make the character someone “real” to whom they can relate while staying true to actual events of the time.
And in honor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day today, I want to share with you my latest YA (young adult) historical fiction read that does all that and more: The Last Cherry Blossom, by Kathleen Burkinshaw.
I feel really fortunate to be scoring big on books lately! My daughter and I are enjoying our finds and sharing them with each other.
Our latest gem is Mrs. Burckinshaw’s debut novel, “The Last Cherry Blossom.” Taking place in Hiroshima, Japan in the year 1945, this story chronicles the life and events of 12-year old Yuriko-chan just prior to the “day of infamy”, when her world was shattered by the dropping of the atomic bomb.
In reality, Yuriko-chan’s story is based on those the author remembers hearing from her own mother, who shared them with her over the years. In this book, Mrs. Burckinshaw has taken loving care and effort in crafting a tale that is based on truth and made alive with “just enough” fiction.
This isn’t a re-write of history, but rather the telling of a lifetime of memories that puts the reader right in the middle of the action. Mrs. Burckinshaw’s writing style is easy; I read this book in one sitting (ok, maybe two if you count I started it in the evening and slept a few hours that night partway through), and I think I stopped breathing about 2/3 of the way through with the suspense!
Best of all, my 13-yr-old daughter and I had some wonderful conversations after reading it. Yes, there were some tough topics and concepts: death, loss, moving forward in life, trying to get both our heads around the amount of pain and devastation people can bear, issues about war and patriotism… But despite, or maybe because of, this depth, we both loved it, and that’s the best kind of book in my book 😉
School-related, my daughter is studying Asia this semester, so “The Last Cherry Blossom” fit nicely into her studies. If you’re in the same boat you may want to consider the following add-on, too. Of course, the book takes place in Japan, and this unit study below is related to China, but for a broad introduction to Asia, I think they dovetail nicely…
This unit study from my friend Beth, the TechieHomeschoolMom, will help you create a unique learning experience.
Did you know that tomorrow is Chinese New Year’s? What a fun opportunity to combine history and geography and culture studies all in one!
Beth’s OnlineUnit Study on the Chinese New Year is a single module study completed entirely online. No need to purchase any additional materials, supplies or books. And it’s fun and fast – it can be completed in a single day of school (while the learning, of course, will last a lifetime).
Here’s what you get:
- Discover the history and traditions of Chinese New Year
- Study traditional Chinese dance
- Create a Chinese dragon
- Produce an animated video to share what you’ve learned
But the best part is the price! You can snag this puppy at Beth’s store for only $5! It’s the perfect complement to “The Last Cherry Blossom.”
(Future learning note here: If you’re looking for some sound guidance in navigating digital learning or looking for some creative resources, do yourself a favor and at least check out Beth’s blog. She is very generous in sharing her knowledge and experiences and has already vetted any recommendations she makes for her own kids, so you know it’s “cyber-safe.”)
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity on home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books
Author Sponsors include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O’Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang