Survivor Tree

by Marcie Colleen (Author) Aaron Becker (Illustrator)

Survivor Tree
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

This hopeful story of a resilient tree that grew (and still grows) at the base of the twin towers is a simple introduction for young readers to gain an understanding of September 11th and the impact it had on America.

One September day, the perfect blue sky exploded. Dust billowed. Buildings crumbled. And underneath it all, a tree sprouted green leaves in its distress. Pulled from the wreckage, the tree saw many seasons pass as it slowly recovered far away from home. Until one day, forever scarred and forever stronger, it was replanted at the 9/11 Memorial.

This story of the real Survivor Tree uses nature's cycle of colors to reflect on the hope and healing that come after a tragedy--and assures readers of their own remarkable resilience.

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Kirkus Reviews

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.


A concluding note fills in more information on the Survivor Tree. A moving history and tribute to resilience.

Publishers Weekly

Observing the 20th anniversary of 9/11, this nonfiction picture book follows a Callery pear tree, growing "at the foot of the towers" for almost 30 years, that was rescued from the rubble following the attacks. Colleen frames the narrative through the tree's seasonal displays ("Winter, spring, summer, fall. Bare, white, green, red") and its history, employing spare, elegant prose as she traces its journey before its uprooting, its decade of recovery in the Bronx's Arthur Ross Nursery, and its replanting at the 9/11 Memorial: "The/ tree/ hesitated/ to/ fill/ the/ empty/ sky." Rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, lush illustrations by Caldecott Honoree Becker realistically reflect the city setting and the story's natural elements while leaving space for images of a varied array of human characters. A sensitive, accessible entry point into a relatively recent tragedy. Back matter includes more information on the Survivor Tree and notes from the creators. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Marcie Colleen
Marcie Colleen is the author of numerous books for children, among them Love, Triangle; Penguinaut!; The Bear's Garden; and the Super Happy Party Bears chapter book series. A Brooklynite at heart, she now lives in San Diego, California. Marcie invites you to visit her online at

Aaron Becker is the creator of the Caldecott Honor Book Journey and two follow-up books in the trilogy: Quest and Return. He is also the creator of A Stone for Sascha and the board books You Are Light and My Favorite Color. Aaron lives with his family in Amherst, Massachusetts. Short films of his process, as well as prints of his artwork, can by found at

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
August 31, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV016000 - Juvenile Fiction | Historical | General
Library of Congress categories
New York (N.Y.)
September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
ALSC Notable Children's Book
Selection 2022

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