Thunder Dog: A Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero
by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory
Nonfiction, 256 pages
Thunder Dog is a book about a blind man’s relationship with his guide dog, Roselle, and how they escaped together from the Twin Towers. Michael Hingson was born blind and throughout the entire book you learn how this never stopped him , but pushed him forward. Forward is also the first command that a guide dog learns. Hingson calmly travels down the hundreds of stairs with his faithful dog at all times. Thunder Dog provides descriptions from events on September 11th, but I wouldn’t say it’s the only focus. The book goes back and forth from Hingson growing up in a sighted world to the long journey down the stairs. He discusses the relationship with his guide dogs, discrimination he encountered, resources that helped him, and his constant determination. If you’re searching for a book that’s only focused on 9/11 with detailed descriptions then this is the wrong book. (Previous review: 102 Minutes is a better choice.) However, if you’re looking for a book with heart that focuses on one individual during a moment of hope then this is your book.
Here are some Guide Dog Wisdom from the book:
What I learned from Roselle on 9/11
1. There’s a time to work and a time to play. Know the difference. When the harness goes on, it’s time to work. Work hard; others are depending on you.
2. Focus in and use all of your senses. Learn to tell the difference between a harmless thunderstorm and a true emergency. Don’t let your sight get in the way of your vision.
3. Sometimes the way is hard, but if you work together, someone will pass along a water bottle just when you need it.
4. Always, but always, kiss firefighters.
5. Ignore distractions. There’s more to life than playing fetch or chasing tennis balls.
6. Listen carefully to those who are wiser and more experienced than you. They’ll help you find the way.
7. Don’t stop until work is over. Sometimes being a hero is just doing your job.
8. The dust cloud won’t last forever. Keep going and look for the way out. It will come.
9. Shake off the dust and move on. Remember the first guide dog command? “Forward.”
10. When work is over, play hard with your friends.
Michael Hingson (Thunder Dog, page 173)
102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers
by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn
I shared 9/11 recommendations for children’s book, so I’ll include a nonfiction book that I finished. 102 Minutes was the first book I read about the events on September 11th. I think this book did a great job providing emotion while also giving facts and details. The book constantly referred to the horrific circumstances similar to those on the Titanic, since it wasn’t just the iceberg that killed the people. The authors discussed in detail about building codes that changed when building the Twin Towers and the inside struggles the individuals encountered, such as stairways blocked, doors locked, and elevators not working. The authors used first hand information from interviews, phone calls, emails, radio communication, and emergency contacts. Individuals had only 102 minutes from the time the first tower was hit to when both towers collapsed. Exact times were given throughout the book. There also were diagrams of the Twin Towers showing exactly where each plane hit, stairways blocked, and exit paths. The book provided emotion, such as details about individuals who risked their life to help others and people working together to survive. I highly recommend this book for a deeply moving experience about the events on September 11th. I finished the book in two days.
September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right
by Materson Elementary Students in Kennett, Missouri
Ages 5-7, 32 pages
The horrible acts on September 11, 2001, created questions about what and how to explain the events to young children. September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right is different because first grade students themselves wrote the book. It is a simple book that discusses that ordinary things still occur, such as homework, story time, and 2+2=4. The message is of hope that even after bad things occur that each day is a new beginning. It briefly discuss what occurred, so it’s not very graphic.
Dog Heroes of September 11th: A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs
by Nona Kilgore Bauer, photographs by Isabelle Francais
Nonfiction, 232 pages
Dog Heroes of September 11th isn’t a children’s book, but it’s a new perspective on the event. The book gives tribute to dogs and their handlers during moments after September 11, 2001. There are 78 dogs featured in the book with wonderful photographs and descriptions about their jobs. Being a search and rescue dog takes a lot of training and long hours yet these dogs love their work. Many of these dogs received medals for their service. A search and rescue dog’s work is often indispensable during missions where people can’t fully complete the job. I think people will enjoy this book, because dogs relate to people at a personal level during difficult situations.
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman
Ages 6 -9, 48 pages
This is the inspiring true story of the John J. Harvey-a retired New York City fireboat reinstated on September 11, 2001. Originally launched in 1931, the Harvey was the most powerful fireboat of her time. After the September 11 attacks, with fire hydrants at Ground Zero inoperable and the Hudson River’s water supply critical to fighting the blaze, the fire department called on the Harvey for help.
The book provides brief history of events during Harvey’s prime in the 1930s. The pictures are beautiful and provide a unique story during a tragic event. It briefly explains what occurred without going into too much detail. The focus is upon the community’s involvement that creates a discussion about everyone’s role and the importance of coming together.
The Little Chapel that Stood by A.B. Curtiss, illustrated by Mirto Golino
Ages 9 – 12, 40 pages
The Little Chapel that Stood is a beautiful book that tells the story of the historic chapel, St. Paul’s, less than 100 yards from the Twin Towers that survived on September 11th. Rescue workers used the chapel as a safe haven between helping people in the towers. St. Paul’s Chapel has a long and significant history, for example its first service was in 1698 and George Washington attended services. Visors can see artifacts from September 11th inside St. Paul’s Chapel. The link below provides more information about St. Paul’s timeline.
Around the Chapel of Old St. Paul
Blow the dancing leaves of the coming of Fall.
In the morning breeze they leap and fly
Beneath the towers that scrape the sky.
Two planes hijacked by a terrorist crew
Struck the Twin Towers: no warning, no clue!
Who thought it could happen, or knew what to do?
Fireman came and New York’s Men in Blue
Information about St. Paul’s involvement on September 11th:
Information about St. Paul’s long history:
September Roses illustrated and written by Jeanette Winter
Ages 5 – 8, 40 pages (Very short book with about a sentence on each page with beautiful pictures)
As September 11th approaches, I wanted to highlight some children’s books that can be used to discuss the topic.
September Roses is a true story about two sisters from South Africa who grow roses. They traveled with over 2,000 roses to New York City for a flower show. Due to the attack on the World Trade Centers, the flower show cancelled and the sisters weren’t able to travel back to South Africa. So, they had no where to go and boxes of unused roses. However, there was a suggestion for how to use the roses. The sisters formed two towers of roses that helped others during this tragic situation.
The book does a good job lightly explaining what occurred without giving too much details for young ages. The story is lovely of how roses could help people’s emotion during a difficult time. The pictures are beautiful as they move from bright colors into darkness. It’s a good book to lead into discussion.
- opening page
As I looked down at the roses, a young man walked to where I stood and told me how they came to be there.