Monday, July 11, 2016

Towers Falling

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

24846343Rhodes, Jewell Parker. Towers Falling.
July 12th 2016 by Little, Brown BFYR  
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Déja is living with her family in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. Her mother is working, but her father is ill and unable to hold a job or even get out of bed some days. Déja needs to take care ofsiblings Raymond and Leda as well as go to a new school and understand her new classmates. The school is better than her previous one, but Déja doesn't care too much for the writing assignments-- she didn't have a summer vacation, and "home" is a difficult concept. She does make friends with Ben, who has moved to NYC from Arizona with his mother after his parents' divorce, and Sabeen, who tries very hard to befriend her. Sabeen's family is from Turkey, and she wears a head scarf, so when the class starts to study the events of 9/11, there's a lot of discussion about what it has meant for Sabeen's family to be Muslim. Déja's father gets very upset when he finds out that the school is teaching about 9/11. He feels Déja is too young to know about it, but his real reason is that he was at work at one of the towers, and has post traumatic stress disorder as the result of his experience. After she and Ben visit the 9/11 Memorial by themselves, her father finally talks to her about his experiences, and she is able to understand his experience, as well as her family's situation, a bit better. 

There are many books about Hurricane Katrina, but surprisingly few about 9/11. This is a topic that has been covered every year in my school, and Towers Falling is a great introduction to the event for middle grade readers who were not alive in 2001. It covers the basics with a delicate touch, balancing the horrors against the sensibilities of younger readers. The multicultural students are realistic and much appreciated, and the economic diversity shown in Déja's family is also one that needs more coverage in middle grade literature. 

This is a good book to include in any elementary or middle school collection, along with Cerra's excellent Just a Drop of Water, Tarshis' I Survived the Terrorist Attacks of 9/11, Mills All We Have Left, Baskin's Nine, Ten, and Brown's nonfiction America is Under Attack.


  1. This is good to know about. My granddaughter is just about at the right age for this and it is nice to know of this book with a lighter touch. Thanks for the post.

  2. Thanks for highlighting this book - I have some friends that I will be recommending it to.

  3. Anonymous1:05 PM EDT

    I'm curious about this is Nine Ten and will definitely check them out.

  4. Wow....I was 17 when 9/11 took place, it seems like just yesterday, but for today's younger teens it's an historical event, something from the past. The memory of that event can still bring up such powerful emotions, even all these years later. Glad to see it's being shared with new generations with sensitivity.