This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth

by Sean Rubin (Author)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A deeply moving story about community and resilience, from the point-of-view of the Callery pear tree that survived the attacks on September 11, from Eisner Award-nominated author-illustrator Sean Rubin.*  

In the 1970s, nestled between the newly completed Twin Towers in New York City, a Callery pear tree was planted. Over the years, the tree provided shade for people looking for a place to rest and a home for birds, along with the first blooms of spring. On September 11, 2001, everything changed. The tree's home was destroyed, and it was buried under the rubble. But a month after tragedy struck, a shocking discovery was made at Ground Zero: the tree had survived. Dubbed the "Survivor Tree," it was moved to the Bronx to recover. And in the thoughtful care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the Callery pear was nursed back to health. Almost a decade later, the Survivor Tree returned home and was planted in the 9/11 Memorial to provide beauty and comfort...and also hope. This is the story of that tree--and of a nation in recovery. Told from the tree's perspective, This Very Tree is a touching tribute to first responders, the resilience of America, and the restorative power of community.

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Kirkus Reviews

"A resonant, beautifully rendered testament to life and renewal." --Kirkus, starred review

Publishers Weekly

Twenty years after 9/11, Rubin revisits the tragedy through the eyes of a tree that survived the devastation, providing a poignant tribute to a city's resilience and a powerful introduction to the topic for young readers. The Callery pear tree, planted at the World Trade Center Plaza in the 1970s, narrates the true story in personal prose: "It was an ordinary morning. Until it wasn't." After sunny, green-tinged spreads turn dark, black and gray frames depict the tree as it stands buried under tons of twisted rubble. Paneled illustrations aptly speed or slow the narrative, following the subject's wounding, rescue, and rehabilitation--in an uplifting spread, the growing tree is shown in parallel with the construction of One World Trade Center--to its eventual replanting at the ground zero memorial, where its blossoming branches symbolize hope. Back matter includes more details on 9/11 and the tree, noting that many of its seedlings have been gifted to other communities that have experienced a tragedy. Ages 4-8. (May)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

* Splendid illustrations . . . A resonant, beautifully rendered testament to life and renewal. —Kirkus, starred review

A poignant tribute to a city's resilience and a powerful introduction to the topic for young readers. —Publishers Weekly

Rubin's inspiring tale uses a displaced—and eventually reinstated—tree to symbolically reflect on the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the rebuilding of New York City over time...Particularly striking is the growth of the tree and the new tower at the site of the World Trade Center, shown in a series of parallel illustrations. Although the circumstances are different, this story of urban resilience and rebuilding remains relevant today. —Booklist

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Henry Holt & Company
Publication date
May 11, 2021
BISAC categories
JNF007020 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Historical
JNF037040 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Science & Nature | Trees & Forests
JNF025250 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States/21st Century
Library of Congress categories
New York (State)
New York
United States
September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
ALSC Notable Children's Book
Selection 2022

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