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Reach And Teach Says:
This is a compelling book taking a custom many know about and wrapping it around the life of a young girl facing very difficult times. With her parents nearing divorce, and having to live with a grandmother who doesn't know how to communicate with her, Angela learns that relationships are difficult to navigate, but like the beauty of a paper crane, they are well worth working on. The characters are wonderful, difficult, funny, and oh so real (says the guy with Japanese-American inlaws who sooooooo remind him of sooooooo many awkward and wonderful moments navigating our different ways of looking at and dealing with the world).
About the Book:
Angela doesn't believe being hundreds of miles away will help her feel any better, especially because she's convinced she'll be bored to death in her grandparents' cramped house. But Gramps, Grandma Michi, and Aunt Janet plan to keep Angela occupied in their flower shop, folding origami "1001 crane" displays for newlyweds. At first, Angela is reluctant to learn the craft and make friends with the people who come into the shop—a pint-sized African American judo student, a cute skateboarder named Tony, and Buddhist bridezilla, just for starters. But soon her folding skills improve and her relationships with family and friends grow, all of which helps Angela keep her life in perspective despite the troubles she faces.
"A wonderfully engaging and poignant novel about a revered Japanese-American custom that transforms the life of a lost young girl."
—Cynthia Kadohata, Newbery Award–winning author of Kira-Kira
"Well-written and episodic, this is an easy read that seeks to explain how relationships work or don't, and to reassure readers that it is possible to survive even the worst."
Why Naomi Hirara wrote 1001 Cranes, according to her website: http://www.naomihirahara.com/1001cranes/whyiwrote.html
About origami cranes...
Every weekend when I was young, my parents went to a local bowling alley to participate in a bowling league for working gardeners. My friends, other children of gardeners, and I were on our own. Sometimes we pulled on the handle of vending machines to see if extra change would come out (can you believe that they used to sell cigarettes in vending machines?). Sometimes we spied on the hustlers inside of the pool hall. And sometimes I made origami cranes. My mother had a Japanese instructional book that showed how to fold not only cranes, but hats, squirrels, boxes, and penguins. I loved to do arts and crafts, and many times, I folded while listening to the thunder of bowling pins falling.
About a thousand and 1001 cranes...
I'm fascinated by the ways different generations of people have passed down traditions, changed them, and made them into their own.
The 1001 crane display is one such cultural phenomenon in the Japanese American community. In preparation of a friend's or relative's wedding, members of the wedding party may get together to fold gold cranes for a special wall display. (Usually the cranes are formed to create the kanji, or Chinese character, for love or happiness. Sometimes they are arranged into the family crest.)
The creation of these displays is not a Japanese practice, but a Japanese American one. Of course, however, Japan has a long tradition of folding of a thousand cranes. The first known "how to" book, in fact, was created in 1797 in Japan. You can see the diagrams and illustrations here. According to legend, the folding of a thousand cranes would result in the granting of a wish by a mystical crane.
The crane, which appears in many Japanese folk tales, holds special meaning for the Japanese. The bird can represent long life, fidelity, and peace.
Senbazuru, or a thousand cranes, became an especially important symbol to represent peace in connection with Sadako Sasaki, the young girl from Hiroshima who eventually died from radiation sickness from the atomic bomb. While she was struggling with her illness, her friends and families folded a thousand cranes for her to get better. Even though she didn't survive, senbazuru lived in the hearts of people all over the world.
From the 1970s, the Japanese American community took this image of a thousand cranes, and put their own unique twist on it. They began creating displays of 1001 cranes, the extra one for good luck. It's about celebration and joy.
Many Japanese Americans have been in the United States for four and even five generations. Most cannot speak Japanese. But families still fold 1001 cranes for weddings and retirement parties.
Although some of the cultural values Japanese Americans have are hard to identify, the 1001 crane displays are one visible way that this community celebrates its heritage. Of course, as time passes, even this practice may disappear.
Written by Naomi Hirahara
Middle grade, 10 years old and up
Yearling Trade Paperback: 978-0-440-42234-1