A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story by Caren Stelson. Illustrated by Akira Kusaka

A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story

During World War II in the city of Nagasaki, Japan, young Sachiko and her family shared meals around a low table. A precious bowl belonging to her grandmother rested in a place of honor at its center. Each night, the bowl was filled with good things to eat—squid, octopus, noodles, and eel. Before eating, a prayer of thanksgiving was offered.

For years, Sachiko’s family’s homelife was peacefully routine, but eventually outside its walls the dissonance of war predominated—torpedoes were built, soldiers trained for battle, air-raid sirens wailed, and people wept for their fathers and brothers killed while fighting. 

Sachiko noticed that war meant less of everything. Daily, Grandmother’s bowl offered less variety and quantity of food. Still, the family offered thanks for what they had, unaware of the horrors that awaited. On Aug. 9, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. 

The city was obliterated. Sachiko’s three brothers died, one after the other, because of radiation poisoning. Two years later, Sachiko’s family returned to the rubble of their home, where Sachiko’s father found Grandmother’s bowl, intact, without a chip or crack! The bowl again became the centerpiece of their meals, but it came to symbolize so much more. Each subsequent Aug. 9, the family filled the bowl with ice and watched it melt, remembering their terrible thirst after the explosion, reflecting on all that was lost and praying for peace.

A Bowl Full of Peace is a difficult, yet necessary story to share with children. Though recommended for ages 6-11, the book is better suited to children 9 and older. Christian parents and caregivers can use this book as a jumping off point to talk about Jesus, our Prince of Peace, who teaches us to walk in his peace and promises to return and make an end to war forever. (Carolrhoda Books)

About the Author

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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