Tag Archives: 9/11

Welcome to the Rock!

3 Mar

On an average Saturday, I might be napping on the sofa at two in the afternoon. But, yesterday wasn’t your average Saturday afternoon. It was the day I was going to see


I wasn’t quite up in the nosebleeds, but I had a lovely unobstructed view of center stage, and excited for the performance to begin, I took my seat early.


I’m not going to go into details about the show. Suffice it to say I laughed and cried in equal portions as songs and scenes were funny, poignant or brought back memories of that terrible day. I wanted to turn to everyone around me and proudly say, “I’m Canadian”.

Sometimes when a show ends and the applause begins, a single person rises and a standing ovations begins. Yesterday, when the lights when the show ended and the stage lights went out, the applause was immediate and deafening as the entire audience leapt to their feet. The cast came out for their curtain calls and, as they left the band came out and held a ceilidh on the stage. Well, the audience clapped and whooped along until the final chord. There were still tears in my eyes as I left the theatre, but my heart was warm.

The one I haven’t read yet

9 Sep

I put Gae Polisner’s The Memory of Things on hold at the library before it was published this month.


I’ve been tracking it’s progress through the library system as it has gone from on order to in process to in transit. I am the first hold on the Multnomah County Library system’s 19 copies. I suspect it will be on the hold shelf for me later today.

Publisher’s Summary:On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down from the window of Stuyvesant High School. Moments later, terrified and fleeing home to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge, he stumbles across a girl perched in the shadows, covered in ash, and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a NYC detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. But what if the girl has forgotten everything, even her own name? And what if the more Kyle gets to know her, the less he wants her to go home? The Memory of Things tells a stunning story of friendship and first love and of carrying on with our day-to-day living in the midst of world-changing tragedy and unforgettable pain—it tells a story of hope.

I can’t tell you much else about it. Just that I am excited to read it.

…and After

7 Sep

Monday, I wrote about Nine, Ten which focused on the days leading up to 9/11. Today’s book, Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes, deals with the aftermath.


Publisher’s Summary: From award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes, a powerful novel set fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks.

When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Deja can’t help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers?

Award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes tells a powerful story about young people who weren’t alive to witness this defining moment in history, but begin to realize how much it colors their every day.

For a small book, this one covers a lot of territory. We have kids with a range of knowledge about 9/11, survivor guilt, community and what it means to be an American.

Deja was a little hard to like at first. She is very defensive, trying not to let people know she lives in a shelter, prickly because so many responsibilities fall on her shoulders. As you to know her,  she becomes more likable and finally you end up rooting for her and her family. I think, too, that this book might make readers curious to fill in gaps in their knowledge about 9/11.

The language in this one is appropriate for 4th & 5th grade readers.


5 Sep


Yesterday’s book was for YA readers. Today’s book Nine, Ten by Nora Raleigh Baskin, is definitely for middle grade readers.

We often think of how 9/11 impacted NYC in particular, but this book, with characters in California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and NYC, shows how people all over the country were affected. This could be a great beginning of the year read aloud because it honors the event, but also shows the universal problems tweens face, even though they often feel alone.

Publisher’s Summary: From the critically acclaimed author of Anything But Typical comes a touching look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers.

Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day—until a plane struck the World Trade Center.

But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he hates and the grandmother he loves. Will’s father is gone, too, killed in a car accident that has left the family reeling. Naheed has never before felt uncomfortable about being Muslim, but at her new school she’s getting funny looks because of the head scarf she wears. Aimee is starting a new school in a new city and missing her mom, who has to fly to New York on business.

These four don’t know one another, but their lives are about to intersect in ways they never could have imagined. Award-winning author Nora Raleigh Baskin weaves together their stories into an unforgettable novel about that seemingly perfect September day—the day our world changed forever.

Then & Now: 9/11

4 Sep

In a week, we will mark the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attack. The students I teach are 11 and have no memory of that day. They can only understand it secondhand.  In his oft quoted 2013 speech, Neil Gaiman states “that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do.” And here is a case to prove his point. My West Coast students will probably understand  9/11 more by reading fiction than any other way. So, this week, starting today, I will share some new, and some not so new, books about 9/11.

YA readers will find All We Have Left by Wendy Mills, insightful.


Publisher’s Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Jesse is used to living with the echoes of the past. Her older brother died in the September 11th attacks, and her dad has filled their home with anger and grief. When Jesse gets caught up with the wrong crowd, one momentary hate-fueled decision turns her life upside down. The only way to make amends is to face the past, starting Jesse on a journey that will reveal the truth about how her brother died.

In 2001, sixteen-year-old Alia is proud to be Muslim… it’s being a teenager that she finds difficult. After being grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia is determined to show her parents that they must respect her choices. She’ll start by confronting her father at his office in downtown Manhattan, putting Alia in danger she never could have imagined. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers Alia is trapped inside one of the buildings. In the final hours she meets a boy who will change everything for her as the flames rage around them . . .

Interweaving stories past and present, full of heartbreak and hope, two girls come of age in an instant, learning that both hate and love have the power to reverberate into the future and beyond.

What I really like about this book is the way it shows the impact on the people left behind. In an election year where hateful words are being spoken about Muslims, this book is a powerful resource for adolescents.The beautiful, poignant prose will also appeal to adults. I couldn’t put this book down.


27 Jan


For my 4th graders, turning 10 is huge. Double digits, you know.

For Alex Douglas, the protaganist in Eleven, by Tom Rogers, turning eleven means he is responsible enough to get a dog. Or so he hopes. Alex’s 11th  birthday doesn’t start off the way he expects and when you realize that Alex turns 11 on September 11, 2001, you know the day is not going to end the way he expects, either.

From the Publisher: Alex Douglas always wanted to be a hero. But nothing heroic ever happened to Alex. Nothing, that is, until his eleventh birthday. When Alex rescues a stray dog as a birthday gift to himself, he doesn’t think his life can get much better. Radar, his new dog, pretty much feels the same way. But this day has bigger things in store for both of them.

This is a story about bullies and heroes. About tragedy and hope. About enemies with two legs and friends with four, and pesky little sisters and cranky old men, and an unexpected lesson in kindness delivered with a slice of pizza.

I felt the author did an extraordinary job of presenting the human side of what happened on 9/11. The book is honest in depicting the violence of what happened without being overtly gory or sensationalist. The focus was put on the thoughts and feelings of the survivors, their will to help one another, and their longing to get home and embrace their families.

This is the best book you’ve never heard of. It is not a perfect novel, few are, but this one is really worth reading.

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