Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Charlesbridge. May 2021. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781623541323.
Gr 2-5–A young girl, who is biracial, and her family experience the tragedy of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in New York City, with the special lens of having a family member who is in the New York City Fire Department. Through juxtaposed wordless illustrated scenes and illustrations with text, readers experience the tragedy of the day, the aftermath, and the healing of the city and those who bravely came to the rescue. Also featured is a tree, a Callery pear tree that survived the destruction of the World Trade Center. The tree was excavated from the rubble and years later replanted near the South Pool at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Digital illustrations do not shy away from the destruction and tragedy of 9/11 but the focus on the helpers and the passage of time allow for hope to form the central essence of the book. Connections to the Survivor Tree in Oklahoma City (as detailed in Chris Barton’s All of a Sudden and Forever) speak to the resilience of nature and humankind in the face of tragedy. Back matter includes information regarding the Survivor Tree Seedling Program.
VERDICT Highly recommended for a generation of elementary students looking for a hopeful entry point to a hard moment in American history.

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