Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Peace Bell

The Peace Bell

Margi Preus
Illustrator:  Hideko Takahashi 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Henry Holt and Co., 2009   ISBN: 978-0805078008

Yuko's grandmother has a story to share with Yuko and Yoku's American friend. She tells the little girls about the New Year celebrations that she enjoyed when she was a little girl. She describes how she loved to hear the special temple bell toll on New Year's Eve. When the war began the bell was taken away to be melted down for the war effort. Yuko was told that the metal was going to be turned into bullets and guns, and this idea upset Yuko. It ""seemed wrong to make a peaceful bell into weapons"" she thought.

After the war was over, Yoku hoped that the bell would come back to her town, but it didn't, and times were hard. Yoku missed the warming and comforting sound of the bell and she began to think that she would never hear its deep voice again - and then something wonderful happened.

Based on real events that took place in Japan and America, this picture book tells a powerful story that is very moving and full of hope. The story shows readers that good things can come out of bad situations, and that dreams can come true if people have the will to make them happen. We all know that war is a terrible and destructive force. What we sometimes forget is that war often takes away those seemingly insignificant things that give our lives meaning – just like Yoku's grandmother's bell.

At the back of the book, the author tells the story of the real peace bell that was taken to America at the end of World War II, and that was sent back to its original home in Japan as a gesture of goodwill and friendship.