Monday, October 10, 2016

Towers Falling (and winner!)

If all goes according to plan, I'll have a book review for you every day this week. I know. I've been kind of balls to the wall with reading so hopefully you'll find some new things to add to your fall reading lists this week. But first, we have to announce the winner of a copy of Helen Maryles Shankman's new book They Were Like Family To Me:

Congrats, Anne!! I've emailed you so check your junk mail if you haven't seen it yet. Thanks for entering, lambs!

But now it's review time. This one is one that I picked out for my daughter out of her classroom Scholastic order form because the kids had asked me about 9/11. I ordered a non fiction book but then I saw this and thought... yes. Yes, I will order a fiction book because sometimes I think fiction books written about real things gets to a kid better. It's more interesting and easier for them to relate to so I ordered this one too.

Towers Falling - Jewell Parker Rhodes
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?

You guys- get this book. Get this book not just because of the 9/11 aspect of it and how well done it is, but this is a great look at children who come from all kids of economic and cultural backgrounds. It's like the perfectly integrated school where there is really a little something of everything and these kids, while learning about the world around them, learn about the peers around them. The center of the story though is Deja, who is living in poverty and moved to a new school, struggles to make friends. She also struggles with seeing how, though she's in poverty, there are other tragedies around her and that the most important thing is she still has her family and family is your home, not the structure around you.

But it isn't just the poverty and the 9/11 story line but it's also the nuances of Deja and her family. I won't give it away as its like a secondary story line in the book that ties into the 9/11 theme, but once we learn about Deja's father, it almost makes her home life even more tragic than just the fact that their large family are living in one room of a homeless shelter.

This is such a great MG (middle grade) novel but it would be good for third grade and above, to be honest. The theme is written so well that it brings the horror of 9/11 to their level in a calm, informative way. I had a really great discussion about 9/11 and cultural differences with my daughter, and we talked about how it relates to what we see on the news today. I really think this would be a great addition for a classroom book shelf as well.

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