Picture book based on A-bombed doll kept by American woman to be published

by Kohei Okata and Yoko Nitta, Staff Writers

For more than 60 years, an American woman preserved a doll which was found among the burnt ruins of Hiroshima in the aftermath of the atomic bombing. The story of a woman holding in mind the tragedy of a war across the ocean has inspired an author of children's literature, Kazu Sashida, 42. Ms. Sashida, a writer based in Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo, will publish a picture book based on this story.

The doll is now held in storage at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It is made of fabric and is about the size of an adult's palm. The doll is clothed in a red kimono, with lining, but the sleeves have become worn.

After the war ended, Nancy Meaders, an 81-year-old resident of Texas, received the doll and a letter from a friend, who was an American soldier and was stationed in Hiroshima. The letter said that he found the doll in the burnt-out ruins of Hiroshima. Ms. Meaders, recalling those days, said, "Did the girl who owned this doll run for her life? Did she walk all over the city in search of her mother? I visualized many scenes in my mind and came to feel close to Hiroshima. I thought I should treasure the doll."

When her children became old enough to understand, she showed the doll to them and told them about the atomic bombing. She kept the doll in a box and had it in her dressing table for many years. But in May 2008 she donated the doll to the museum through her son, hoping that the doll will always be preserved.

Ms. Sashida learned about the doll through the museum's website. "The doll stood out among other items related to the atomic bombing. I wanted to find out why a woman of a country that had been our enemy kept the doll for as long as 60 years." She contacted Ms. Meaders, and the two communicated through email. Ms. Sashida then visited her at home in the United States for an interview this past April. She empathized with Ms. Meader's desire for peace and decided to publish a book.

"War is terrible. The picture book will convey the message that we can get along better with each other," said Ms. Meaders, who is happy about the forthcoming book. Ms. Sashida, who just completed the manuscript, stressed, "By being considerate to others, we can avoid waging war again." After the illustrations are ready, the book will be issued by the publisher Bunken Shuppan around May 2011.

(Orignially published on July 30, 2010)