Book review: Seven and a Half Tons of Steel, by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Nolan, Janet. Seven and a half tons of steel. Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez.  Peachtree, 2016. Unpaged. $17.95. Ages 5-8. ISBN 9781561459124. P8Q8

nolan-seven-tons-of-steelAfter the World Trade Center in New York City was destroyed on September 11, 2001, a 7 ½ ton steel beam was salvaged from the rubble and sent to a foundry in Louisiana to be forged into the bow of a Navy ship, the USS New York.  The understated, precise language of veteran author Janet Nolan pairs with Thomas Gonzalez’s dramatic watercolor illustrations to tell the story of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers and the story of the people who worked together to reforge something new from the rubble.  This simple story carries a powerful message of patriotism, a worthy introduction of the subject to children too young to have lived through the national trauma.

Verdict: A stellar nonfiction picture book that shows the lengthy process of recovering and rebuilding after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack for young children. Highly recommended for kindergarten, elementary and public library collections.

September 2016 review by Jane Cothron.

Nolan, Janet. Seven and a Half Tons of Steel. Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. Peachtree, 2016. $17.95. ISBN 9781561459124. Unpaged. Ages 6-10. P8Q9.

This beautifully illustrated book begins with 9/11 and tells how a steel beam from the wreckage at Ground Zero was incorporated in the bow of the warship USS New York. The text is quiet and respectful, and gives quite a bit of factual information in a relatively few sentences. The focus is on 9/11, but also mentions Hurricane Katrina- the ship was being built in a shipyard in New Orleans. The hurricane displaced many of the workers until housing was built for them. I think the artwork is the star of this book. The colors are deep, rich, and convey heaviness, light, destruction and hope depending on the spread. The final pages five detailed information about the USS New York, it’s crest, and the symbolism contained in the crest. VERDICT: All public libraries and school libraries should have this book. It’s a great introduction to a sad day in our history.

January 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

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