Saved By The Boats: The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11
Julie Gassman, Author
Steve Moors, Illustrator
Capstone Press, Nonfiction, Aug. 16, 2016
Suitable for Ages: 8-12
Themes: Terrorist Attack, September 11, Boats, Sea Evacuations, Civilians, Hope, Kindness
Opening: An arc of sky framed the city in brilliant blue. The bright, golden sun beamed with warmth. But just below, gray smoke swelled and snaked through the air. And, silently, white ash fell in a thick snowfall, coating the city.
Synopsis: September 11, 2011, was a dark day in U.S. history. Amid the chaos of the attacks, sea captains and crews raced by boat to the tragic scene. nearly 500,000 people on New York City’s Manhattan Island were rescued that day in what would later be called the largest sea evacuation in history. In this rarely told story of heroism, we come to understand that in our darkest hours, people shine brightly as a beacon of hope.
Why I like this book:
Julie Gassman’s powerful and inspiring story is based on her own personal experience of fleeing Manhattan by boat on September 11. Impressively researched, the narrative is presented in a straightforward, honest and compassionate manner. This beautifully crafted story demonstrates the best of humanity during times of tragedy.
This is a little known story about how ordinary captains of tugboats, ferry boats and private boats responded to the Coast Guard call and sped to the harbor to help 500,000 people escape the suffocating blanket of ash and travel to safety in Jersey City. Their spectacular demonstration of heroism deserves recognition. Their biggest concern was the safety of the passengers even though they knew that on open water they could be easy targets. Yet they continued to sail back and forth rescuing people and then carrying rescue workers, water and other supplies on their return.
Steve Moors soulful illustrations capture the crush of people with bewildered and dazed facial expressions, which are contrasted by the busy rescue workers wrapping people in towels and washing faces. His pen and ink drawings of the people and city is shaded in an ashen color, with a bright blue sky in the background. Yet, his artwork conveys a sense of hope.
Most of the youth who will read this book weren’t even born yet. Saved by the Boats really demonstrates to readers that during times of tragedy, we come together as Americans to help each other. With the country dealing with two recent hurricanes, it is an excellent time to encourage children to look for the acts of kindness and the heroic deeds of ordinary people as we help each other through a difficult time. It is an important book for youth in Grades 3-6 to read.
Check other Middle Grade review links on author Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.