Author Kathleen Burkinshaw With a Discussion Guide for THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM.

One of the most timely and heart-wrenching middle-grade books I’ve recently read is THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw.  It is my pleasure to feature the Discussion Guide for this book that should be in every classroom.

 

THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM       

Discussion Guide: By Kathleen Burkinshaw

1.Do you have relatives who were teens during WWII in the U.S.?  What were there worries or fears at that time? Were they similar to what the Japanese children felt? If different, how were they different?

2.Did you or someone you know have to deal with a new step family.  Was it difficult to meld the two households together? What made it easier? Did anything that made it easier surprise you?

  1. Yuriko, like many of us, hated change. How would you have handled the news about her family secrets, if it happened to you?
  2. Why do you think the author chose THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM for her title? What do you think it signifies?
  3. Cite specific examples from the book that show how protective Yuriko was of her Papa. Why do you think Sumiyo came to mean so much to Yuriko? How or when does this change occur?
  4. What aspects of Japanese culture were revealed in THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM?
  5. Which cultural details interested you the most? Which details surprised you the most of life in Japan during the war?
  6. How do you think the time period that THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM took place influenced Yuriko’s personality?

9.What did you know about Hiroshima Japan during WWII, before reading THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM?

10.Does reading THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM change your view on using nuclear weapons in the future? Why or Why not?

11.List the Statistics of Hiroshima and state which surprised you the most? Which surprised you the least? Why?

Kathleen Burkinshaw would love to hear from you. You can email her through her contact page on her website: http://kathleenburkinshaw.com/#contact

For more information on what nuclear weapons could do if used today visit:

www.ICAN.org

Also, for more information on Hiroshima bombing please visit the Kids Peace Station of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum:

http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/kids/KPSH_E/top_e.html

Instruction on how to make an origami crane, now a symbol of hope and peace:

http://www.origamiway.com/origami-crane.shtml

revised 9/2017

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Kathleen Burkinshaw, MG Author Interview: The Last Cherry Blossom.

As we approach the 72nd anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima during the last days of WWII (August 6), I am honored to share a wonderful middle grade book that features a Japanese family living in Hiroshima during that time.  THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw should be read in every middle school classroom to open the conversation on why we should always try to settle disputes peacefully and never, ever again resort to nuclear weapons.

This story has special significance for me as well.  My father – Raymond Beck – was a POW interred in Japan during the war.  He worked as a slave laborer in the coal mines of Hiroshima.  Had he not been underground when the bomb hit, I would most likely not be telling this story.

Here’s Kathleen with her story.

Darlene,

Thank you so much for interviewing me on your blog today! 😊

How did the book come about?

The writing journey of The Last Cherry Blossom began about 8 years ago with one question.  My daughter was in 7th grade at the time and was upset about something that happened in her history class. She said they would be covering the end of WWII and overheard some kids talking about how they couldn’t wait to see the “cool mushroom cloud picture”. She asked if I would speak to her class about the people under the mushroom cloud that day, people like her grandmother.     

I called and asked my mother if it was okay to talk about her experience in Hiroshima that horrific day.  My mom was a very private person, and never spoke about it in public. When I was a young child, she told me she came from Tokyo.  Once she confided in me that she was born in Hiroshima and lost her home, family and friends on August 6th, she asked that I never speak of it either. It was too painful and she didn’t want to draw attention to herself.

But this day she gave me her blessing to discuss what she experienced on August 6th.  She felt that since the students would be about the same age she was (12-years-old), maybe they would relate to her story. As future voters, she hoped they would remember that nuclear weapons should never be used again.

I spoke to my daughter’s class a week after the phone call. The following year I received requests from other local schools. I had been writing about my mom’s survival of the atomic bomb for my own and my daughter’s benefit.  But soon teachers inquired if I had a book that could complement their curriculum. Then the real work began!

Most amazing moment since writing the book?

It’s hard to choose but I have 3 firsts at different stages after writing the book.  The first most amazing moment was when I showed my mom the publishing contract and to see her face and tell me how proud she was that I would do this for her. Perhaps I do treasure this most of all because she passed away 2 months later.

The second moment was when I held the printed copy in my hands, seeing my name on it, smelling the new pages. I still get that same rush whenever I see it on a book shelf.

The third was when received my first fan mail. One was a letter from a student who didn’t like reading, but after reading my book wanted to read more books!

ENTER TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by clicking on this link:   http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cd590dfc4/?

Kathleen Burkinshaw is a Japanese American author residing in Charlotte, NC. She’s a wife, mom to a daughter in college, and owns a dog who is a kitchen ninja. Kathleen enjoyed a 10+ year career in HealthCare Management unfortunately cut short by the onset of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).Writing gives her an outlet for her daily struggle with chronic pain. She has presented her mother’s experience in Hiroshima to schools and at conferences for the past 8 years. The Last Cherry Blossom, is a SCBWI Crystal Kite Award Finalist (southeast region) and 2016 Scholastic WNDB Reading Club selection.

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