A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story

  • Interest Level: Grade 5 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
A National Book Award Longlist Selection
Jane Addams Children’s Book Award
Flora Stieglitz Straus Award
A Booklist Editor’s Choice

“Magnetic and chilling in its simplicity.”—The New York Times Book Review

August 9, 1945, began like any other day for six-year-old Sachiko. Her country was at war, she didn’t have enough to eat. At 11:01 a.m., she was playing outdoors with four other children. Moments later, those children were all dead. An atomic bomb had exploded just half a mile away.

In the days and months that followed, Sachiko lost family members, her hair fell out, she woke screaming in the night. When she was finally well enough to start school, other children bullied her. Through it all, she sought to understand what had happened, finding strength in the writings of Helen Keller, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Based on extensive interviews with Sachiko Yasui, Caren Stelson shares the true story of a young girl who survived the atomic bomb and chronicles her long journey to find peace. Sachiko offers readers a remarkable new perspective on the final moments of World War II—and their aftermath.The paperback edition includes an afterword with updates on Sachiko’s legacy.

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Interest Level Grade 5 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 6
Genre Social Studies
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diverse Books: Social Justice, Diversity, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: D Relationship Skills, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2016
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 144
Publication Date 2016-10-01
Reading Counts! Level 5.5
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF038020, JNF007120, JNF025130
Dewey 940.54/252244092
Graphics 1-color illustrations, Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 8 x 10
Lexile 850
ATOS Reading Level 5.7
Accelerated Reader® Points 4.0
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Endnote, Glossary, Index, Maps, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, and Table of contents

Author: Caren Stelson

Caren Stelson is an award-winning author of nonfiction books that focus on war and peace themes. She believes young readers want to know the truth about their world and how others find resilience and courage in difficult times. Her work includes Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner A Bowl Full of Peace and Sachiko: A Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivor's Story, which was longlisted for a National Book Award and received a Sibert Honor Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award. Caren and her husband Kim live in Minneapolis.


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  • Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award Master List, Long-listed, 2019
  • Notable Books for a Global Society Notable Book, Winner, 2017
  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Winner, 2017
  • ILA Teacher's Choices, Winner, 2017
  • Minnesota Book Award Finalist, Short-listed, 2017
  • Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal Honor Book, Commended, 2017
  • Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, Winner, 2017
  • Jane Addams Children's Book Award, Winner, 2017
  • Cybils, Winner, 2017
  • Freeman Book Award Honorable Mention, Commended, 2017
  • Booklist Top 10 Diverse Nonfiction for Youth, Winner, 2017
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2017
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year - Outstanding Merit, Winner, 2017
  • ALA Notable Children's Books, Winner, 2016
  • ALA-CBC Reading Beyond, Winner, 2016
  • New York Public Library Best Books for Teens, Winner, 2016
  • Eureka! Children’s Book Gold Award, Winner, 2016
  • Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, Winner, 2016
  • Orbis Pictus Award Recommended Book, Commended, 2016
  • Booklist Editor's Choice, Winner, 2016
  • Anna Cross Giblin Award, Winner, 2016
  • National Book Award for Young People's Literature Longlist, Long-listed, 2016


Star Tribune

“Sachiko,” a nonfiction book by Minneapolis writer Caren Stelson, turned up on several 2016 lists, drawing nominations for the National Book Award and the Minnesota Book Award. It’s a slim book with a powerful wallop.

Sachiko Yasui was just 6 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Her first-person account describes the blast and its aftermath, as survivors struggle to find food and water and later die of burns and radiation sickness at overwhelmed hospitals.

Following Japan’s surrender in the war, Sachiko finds herself living in a half-finished house, with classmates who don’t understand her radiation sickness and mock hibakusha or “explosion-affected people.”

As she grows older, Sachiko takes strength from her father’s deep study of Gandhi and a postwar visit to Japan by Helen Keller. “All the world is suffering,” Keller says. “But it’s also full of the overcoming.”

The story’s first-person account and deep sense of humanity offer young readers a chance to grapple with the hard truths of war.

The Horn Book Magazine

“[A] sensitively crafted account . . . [Yasui’s] tragic tale is full of terror and despair, but hope and peace also loom large . . . . [T]his is a significant addition to the available material.”—The Horn Book Magazine

The New York Times Book Review

“Sachiko’s account [is] magnetic and chilling in its simplicity. . . . Stelson has created a book that is both personal and universal, both thoroughly researched and real.”—The New York Times

The Washington Post

“Author Caren Stelson tells Yasui’s story with warmth, sympathy and the vivid details of Yasui’s life before and after the bomb exploded. Filled with powerful archival images, the book also sensitively describes the historical context.”—The Washington Post


“[A] story of staggering hardship and extraordinary resolve. . . . Sachiko and her story . . . are an indelible force. Luminous, enduring, utterly necessary.”—starred, Booklist

School Library Journal

“This sensitive and well-crafted account of a Nagasaki bomb survivor is an essential addition to World War II biography collections for middle school students.”—starred, School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“This powerful narrative account of one person finding her voice after insufferable trauma encapsulates a grim era in global history.”—Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“[V]ery few [books] focus on the hibakusha, survivors of the bombings, and this important biography notably fills that gap. . . . An important perspective.”—Kirkus Reviews