September 11, 2001 was a black day in U.S. history. Amid the chaos, sea captains and crews raced by boat to the tragic Manhattan scene. Nearly 500,000 people on 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.
Author and editor Gassman (the Little Boost series) calls upon her firsthand experience of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in this frank account of the boat evacuation that carried thousands to safety. The narrative provides a grim, age-appropriate recounting of the Twin Towers's destruction before describing how 500,000 people escaped Manhattan via the water: "Boats of all sizes sped into the harbor. Tugboats, ferryboats, private boats, party boats.... each vessel carried a captain and crew who were ready to serve." Quotations from boat captains punctuate the story, while a limited color palette contributes to the somber tone. Newcomer Moors places his intricate line drawings against a stark gray-beige backdrop. The only vivid color is the turquoise of the clear sky, which is later used for the spotlights that shine upward in place of the towers. Survivors, subtly differentiated with their dusty gray coloring, wear expressions of shock and sadness. An author's note details Gassman's personal water-evacuation story, and a glossary (including victim and tragedy) rounds out this inspiring tale of how an impromptu flotilla offered refuge and hope, "a light on the city's darkest day." Ages 6 10.