Moving and poignant, a tender tribute in this 20th-anniversary commemoration of 9/11.

BRANCHES OF HOPE

THE 9/11 SURVIVOR TREE

Text and pictures attest to the resilience of New Yorkers and a remarkable tree following 9/11.

A pear tree is discovered—scarred, burned, and buried—under mounds of rubble after the collapse of the Twin Towers and replanted in a nursery in the Bronx, where it eventually regrows and thrives. This deeply touching book equates the tree’s extraordinary renaissance with New Yorkers’ reawakened strength, spirit, and hope in the aftermath of the tragedy. One particular family—portrayed as an interracial couple (mom presents Black and dad, White) and their very young child—stand in for all New York’s and, indeed, America’s citizens and are depicted in opening scenes innocently enjoying daily life. Everything changes after they watch in bewildered horror as the awful events unfold on TV. Illustrations very ably accompany the simple, solemn text, using both double-page spreads and paneled insets; they highlight and interconnect the passing of time for tree and humans. The “Survivor Tree” is reborn, ultimately returned to its original site and replanted; first responders at ground zero work diligently; the child grows and gains a baby sibling; ordinary activities continue; seasons change; and a 9/11 memorial is built. At book’s end, the child has grown to adulthood and become a New York City firefighter. Several somber-colored illustrations capture the disaster, but the artwork doesn’t dwell on devastation, instead focusing on bright, uplifting images of hope and recovery. An author’s note and information about the tree conclude the book.

Moving and poignant, a tender tribute in this 20th-anniversary commemoration of 9/11. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62354-132-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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