A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fourth volume in the Actual Time series by Don Brown is a very straightforward, journalistic account of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Quotes from real people as well as their stories provide the human element, and graphic, though not gory, watercolor illustrations show the destruction of the plane crashes as well as the emotions of the people involved. Though it is written as a picture book, and suggested for ages 6 to 10, it is more appropriate for those 8 or 9 and over. Parents of any age reader definitely should be prepared to discuss the events and emotions with their children.
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What's the story?
America is Under Attack is the fourth volume of Don Brown's history series for kids called Actual Times, all of which cover significant days in American history. All are written as journalistic accounts, with stories and quotes from real people. And all are illustrated with his wonderfully understated but expressive watercolors that underscore the emotional aspect of the stories.
This volume presents a chronological narrative of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, beginning with first plane crashing into the north tower at 8:46 a.m. and ending with its pancaking collapse less than two hours later. Facts are interwoven with stories and quotes from Fire Chief Joseph Pfiefer, Police Captain Anthony Whitaker, Frank De Martini, the building's construction manager, as well as other workers. Watercolor illustrations show explosions, destruction, and most of all, the facial expressions of the people amid the chaos. Brief mention is made of Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, the terrorists, the crashes into the Pentagon and in the field in Pennsylvania. Also, the last few pages and an Author's Note recount the numbers of people lost and the amount of wreckage left behind. A bibliography is included for further reading.
Is it any good?
This is an excellent book that finds the perfect balance between fact and feeling in describing the horrific event of 9/11. Readers who lived through that time, as well as those who were not born yet, will find value in this account, due to the straightforward presentation of facts and the masterful use of watercolor illustrations to amplify the narrative. The title, designed like a newspaper headline (the Actual Times), sets a journalistic tone, and the story that follows rings true.
Talk to your kids about ...
Besides talking about the events and emotions of the 9/11 events, families can talk about the fact that this book is written as a journalistic account, with real people and actual quotes. Even the cover looks like the front page of a newspaper. How is this different from historical fiction? Which do you prefer? What makes one better than the other?
This book looks like a picture book but is not written for the usual picture book crowd. What do you think the illustrations add that otherwise would not have been part of the story. Can you think of other books with this format?
For kids who love stories about 9/11 and history
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