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911 by Michael Cart Kirkus Star


The Book of Help

edited by Michael Cart with Marc Aronson & Marianne Carus

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-8126-2659-1

The title of this timely anthology emphasizes the connection between the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the 911 emergency assistance phone number, offering both teens and adults thoughtful, provocative literature that may help with preliminary discussions and perspective on this difficult subject. Twenty-five preeminent authors for young adults were invited to contribute to the volume (all donated their work), with a resulting collection of essays, stories, and poems divided into four sections: Healing, Searching for History, Asking Why? Why? Why?, and Reacting and Recovering. Small illustrations by Chris Raschka (painted on Sept. 11) are included with each section. Katherine Paterson’s graceful introduction is followed by her son David Paterson’s spare, moving essay on his experiences as a volunteer at Ground Zero. Other highlights include a poignant story from Suzanne Fisher Staples set in Pakistan, a perceptive piece by Aronson and Marina Budhos on hatred toward the US, and an unforgettable poem by Sonya Sones titled “Voices.” In her essay, poet Naomi Shihab Nye offers this advice: “Use words. It is the most helpful thing I have learned in my life.” The powerful words of this volume offer specific ways to look at the attacks: here are other tragedies that have happened in the past, here are heroic people who show the basic core of goodness in humanity, here is the anger, here the fear, here the calm, eventual acceptance of tragic events as part of our world. This should serve a much wider audience than the young adults at whom it is aimed. Portions of it would make an excellent choice in the inevitable memorial services that will be held this September. The entire anthology could serve as the basis for seminars, writing classes, or even a college course. A teacher’s guide will be available online, and a portion of the profits from the anthology will be donated to a scholarship fund for relatives of the victims. (Nonfiction. 12+)