Written in verse, this short, sobering, yet hopeful book is an exploration of author Lois Lowry’s connection to two major historical events—the Japanese’ bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, and the United States’ bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.
Lowry was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1937. As a child, she played on the beach with her grandmother. Lowry’s father captured the moment on a home movie. Decades later, Lowry was viewing the film with friends. One of them, a former captain of a nuclear submarine, noticed that on the horizon of one frame of film the USS Arizona was visible. On that day so long ago, the battleship carried 1200 men, most of whom would die in the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
About her connection to that event, Lowry writes, “I was a child who played in the sand, / a little shovel in my hand; / I pranced and giggled. I was three. / The ship sailed past. I didn’t see. / I wonder, now that time’s gone by, / about that day: the sea, the sky . . . / the day I frolicked in the foam, / when Honolulu was my home. / I think back to that sunlit day / when I was young, and so were they. / If I had noticed? If I’d known? / Would each of us be less alone?”
Complemented by Kenard Pak’s pencil illustrations, Lowry’s poignant reflections on her place in history and on specific victims of the Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima bombings make the past come to life, and capture the truth that in wars, people on both sides of a conflict suffer, not only in the moment, but, if they survive, for years to come. In author notes, Lowry concludes, “I guess the important thing is also the simplest: to acknowledge our connectedness on this earth; ... and to honor the past by making silent promises to our fellow humans that we will work for a better and more peaceful future.” (HMH Books for Young Readers)