is a survivor of the destruction of Hiroshima. With childlike simplicity, Morimoto tells of a simple, peaceful
childhood that becomes increasingly affected by the war. On August 6, 1945, Morimoto stays home from school. She hears a plane,
seemingly "a long way off and very high up." Then comes the "thunderous flash and an explosion of sound" – the atomic
bomb. Morimoto lives, but her home and "the whole of Hiroshima
was destroyed. Everything was blown away, torn apart. Everything was burning."
book is a masterpiece of serenity contrasted with unthinkable calamity. She draws the reader in from the first pages: The front paste down and flyleaf are a photo album of black-and-white images and people
and places in Hiroshima. Her ink and watercolor illustrations
reflect life in Japan: clothing, rice-paper
house walls, the beauty of the setting. Detailed vignettes show various peoples' activities on the fateful morning. The plane,
Enola Gay, contrasts as a dark X against a brilliant blue sky, emphasizing the immense destruction it caused. Morimoto masterfully
depicts the sharp light, bright, swirling around Junko and her sister. The next page, a double-spread, has the mushroom cloud
at its center, top and bottom framed in bands of dark, swirling shapes. At first the reader might think these shapes are Hiroshima, destroyed. A closer look horrifyingly shows the swirling
shapes to be people – mostly arms, legs.
starkly describes the aftermath: Father, badly burnt; people fleeing for the
river; schools turned into hospitals; "people screaming and moaning in pain, and . . . a horrible smell of burnt skin." In
days, the war ends.
some semblance of normalcy, with students going back to schools. Digging through "the burnt earth," Junko finds "the bones
of many of my friends." The rear flyleaf, in a caption below a photograph of what is left of Hiroshima, relates Morimoto's hope:
Let all the souls here rest in peace,
For we shall not repeat the evil.
personal experience leads the reader to echo her sentiment. The solemn, convincingly depicted subject matter makes this picture
book more appropriate for the older reader.
Junko. 1990. My Hiroshima.
New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-670-83181-6.