Japanese legend holds that if a person who is ill makes a thousand paper cranes, the gods will grant that person's wish to be well again. Hauntingly beautiful illustrations by Caldecott-medalist Ed Young enhance the story of Sadako, a young girl dying of leukemia as a result of the atom bombing of Hiroshima. The poignancy of Sadako's brave struggle will touch children of all ages in this revised version of Eleanor Coerr's classic novel.
An abridgement of the novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes combined with images from a film adaptation of the work yields a complex and somewhat abstract picture book. Using a sampling of the illustrations he created for the movie version, Young ( Seven Blind Mice ) subtly accentuates the poignancy of the story without rendering it sentimental. His ethereal pastels (reminiscent of his art in The Red Thread ) seem to convey the mood, rather than the actual activity, of the text. Sweeping panoramas alternate with wispy image fragments against ample white space: a face half-concealed, a shadow darting past. Coerr's condensed text succeeds in retaining the simple lyricism of the original, allowing the leukemia-stricken Sadako to emerge as a quietly courageous girl. Given the necessary length of the text, the mature subject matter and the sophisticated artwork, this book may find its most welcoming audience among older readers, especially those who enjoyed its original version as a novel. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)