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

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A deeply moving portrait of the Callery pear tree that survived the attacks on September 11, from Eisner Award-nominated author-illustrator Sean Rubin.

In 1973, nestled between the newly completed Twin Towers in New York City, a Callery pear tree was planted. Over the years, the tree provided a home for birds and shade for people looking for a place to rest, 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.

48 pages, Hardcover

First published May 11, 2021

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Sean Rubin

14 books19 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 144 reviews
Profile Image for Darla.
3,346 reviews526 followers
March 29, 2022
In NEW YORK CITY there once stood two towers. For a time, they were the tallest buildings in the world. Below the towers was a busy plaza. That's where I was planted.

When visiting NYC in 2012, the school group I was with got to stand next to this tree and hear its story. I am so happy to see this book that celebrates the resilience and regrowth of the Callery Pear Tree as an emblem of the city itself. This picture book is appropriate even for younger children as it alludes to the events on 9/11 within the text. There are more notes at the end that can be shared when appropriate and will enrich the reading experience for older readers and adults like me. The poem from E.B. White (1949) gave me chills. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Holly.
447 reviews33 followers
June 8, 2021
So like...I love it as a cute 20th anniversary book, but....

That being said, it does not actually explain 9/11/2001. It alludes to it so if you know, you know. If you don't know, you will have to ask. The only written explanation given is "It was an ordinary morning. Until it wasn't." This allows for unique discussion between parent and child but also...puts the entire onus of explaining terrorism on the parent. It would be nice if the language was there.

If I know Goodreads then I know someone is about to comment and tell me how much of an idiot I am for this review SO: Maybe for millennials and older generations it was such a dramatic & painful day that it needs no explanation. We all remember it and could describe where we were when we heard the news. However, as a children's librarian who works with children born in the 2010s & 2020s for 40 hours a week 52 weeks a year, I can assure you there are plenty of kids ages 0-10 years old who don't really get 9/11 and are sort of pretending to go along with it when it gets brought up by their parents so they don't feel left out. If you need a historical example, think about how the WW2 Generation felt about Pearl Harbor. Now ask 10 Gen Z people what date Japan attacked the United States. A day that will live in infamy....that is until it starts to run out of living memory.

This book is beautiful and adorable but that was just something I thought of while reading it.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,113 reviews186 followers
November 6, 2021
Author/illustrator Sean Rubin, native New Yorker and creator of the graphic novel Bolivar , about the adventures of a dinosaur in that city, turns in this deeply moving picture-book to the subject of 9/11. This is the story of the terrorist attack that devastated the city that day, and the little Callery pear tree that once stood at the base of the World Trade Center, and that survived being buried by tons of steel wreckage, when the Twin Towers came down. Taken to a nursery in the Bronx, the tree was nursed back to health over the course of many years, and was eventually returned to its home in lower Manhattan, where it stands today, on the grounds of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum...

This past September 11th was the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and there has been a flurry of picture-book publications commemorating that terrible event, many of them focused on the story of the "Survivor Tree." Sean Rubin's This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth was published this past May, the same month as Ann Magee and Nicole Wong's Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree . In August, author Marcie Colleen and illustrator Aaron Becker brought out Survivor Tree , while in August of this past year (2020), Miracle of Little Tree: The 9/11 Survivor Tree's Incredible Story was released. The story appears to have first been retold in picture-book form in 2011, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, in Cheryl Somers Aubin and Sheila Harrington's The Survivor Tree: Inspired by a True Story . It's interesting to note that there is another survivor tree in the annals of terrorist attacks on America. After the Oklahoma City Bombing of 1995, a small elm tree survived the wreckage of the Alfred P. Murrah Building, eventually going on to thrive, and to be christened "the survivor tree" as well. That story is told for children in Gaye Sanders and Pamela Behrend's The Survivor Tree .

Obviously, this aspect of the 9/11 story, and of other stories of terrible events - for another example, see Sandra Moore and Kazumi Wilds' The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: The Little Bonsai with a Big Story - speaks to us, and is considered a good entry to the subject, for younger children. Perhaps because this part of the story is about hope—about the resilience and regrowth mentioned in Sean Rubin's sub-title here. In any case, I found the narrative here deeply moving—I was crying throughout—and the artwork lovely. The book does not delve into the actual events of 9/11 over the course of the story, although they are covered in the author's note at the rear, rather the focus is on the experiences of the tree. I liked this, because it allows parents and educators the chance to discuss the larger subject with the children in their care in a way best suited to their individual needs and comprehension levels. Highly recommended to picture-book readers looking for a gentle, thoughtful way to introduce the subject of 9/11 to younger children.
Profile Image for Linda.
913 reviews142 followers
June 16, 2021
Correct subtitle: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth

What a beautiful book.

It tells the story of a tree that stood between the Twin Towers. The genius in this is that it tells the story from the *point of view* of the tree. How very touching and incredibly moving. There is an immediacy and an emotional impact that would not be possible otherwise. We really *feel* for this tree. It has likes and dislikes, fears and concerns, and sadness. It has gone through a lot. And while it likes the new place it was taken to in order to heal, it feels good to return home (albeit with some trepidation and anxiety). It is a soft message of hope, just as the blooms on it every spring have always been.

But beyond that, this book has everything. Everything, including a beautiful story, told in simple language, gorgeous full color illustrations, and a short section on the history of 9/11, from the perfect epigraph by E.B. White to the author's own touching note about his relationship to New York City and the Twin Towers.

A wonderful addition to the body of work that has to do with the tragedy of 9/11 and especially a beautiful addition to children's literature on that subject.

I won a copy of this book from the publisher in a giveaway on Instagram.
Profile Image for Silvis Library.
200 reviews46 followers
June 16, 2021
I didn't expect to get emotional over a tree. The use of this tree that stood and stands again where the twin towers fell to teach children about the emotional impact of 9/11 was just the right balance of gentle and serious; somber but hopeful.

Profile Image for Lisa D.
3,024 reviews23 followers
May 11, 2021
What a beautiful book & an amazing story that is tribute to the first responders after 911 or September 11. This book is very inspiring ! Highly recommended! This book should win awards!
Profile Image for Zan Porter.
333 reviews
June 25, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Bettendorf Library.
316 reviews10 followers
March 23, 2022
A beautifully illustrated story about a tree that stands again where the towers fell. The story is a
dedication to those who survived, had to recover, and build again. It does a good job tackling a
tough subject, and I found myself thinking back to that day. It handles this subject with gentle
nature of a long recovery… and yes, I did cry over this little tree!
I read this around the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
— Ashley
Profile Image for Jodi.
1,140 reviews6 followers
September 6, 2021
Floodgates: open. My strongest impression is that this is a story for trauma survivors. My trauma had nothing to do with 9/11, yet in a way this tells my story. I suspect there are broken people besides me who will see themselves in the story of this tree. It captures the desolation of soul perfectly.

This is so heartbreakingly beautiful and hopeful. Sometimes picture books pull up all the emotions in me and make the scars vivid again. This story did that, and yet bolstered my courage, too. I haven't cried so much over a book in a long, long time. Healing tears, maybe.

* * * * *

Like the author, I had just started tenth grade when the Towers were hit. As it is with everyone [old enough to have experienced it], I remember where I was when I first heard about the planes crashing and switched on the TV. It was so horrific, I can still feel the way I felt that day. This true story is a compassionate tribute to the victims, the families, the rescue workers, the community, the city, the nation--and one little tree that survived the tragedy. Magnificently written, and so accessible to little ones, "This Very Tree" makes it gentle and easy to start conversations and share this sad history with the generation[s] that came after 9/11/01. (Another great book that comes to mind and helps accomplish this purpose is "Towers Falling" by Jewell Parker Rhodes.)

The little girl in me hugs this book to her heart. 💗
90 reviews2 followers
June 16, 2021
Great story told from the tree's point of view. I will be adding a copy to my 4th grade classroom!
Profile Image for Jenn.
66 reviews4 followers
June 12, 2021
This book is simple and beautiful. Be sure to read the afterword about the healing of the tree, and I dare you not to cry when they mention that seedlings from this tree are "sent all over the world to communities suffering from recent tragedies."
Profile Image for Teresa Howard.
99 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2021
A great story to help little children understand the events of 9/11. I liked the illustrations too.
3 reviews6 followers
September 6, 2021
I bought this book to have in my arsenal for when my 4-year-old begins asking questions about the world trade center and 9/11, though we have not yet read it with him. I can say though that as an adult, I find the story powerful and beautiful. The tree's journey is so well handled - anyone who experienced the months and years after 9/11 will recognize the stages of confusion and grief, fear and anxiety, and then - powerfully- creating a "new normal." The book is a strong complement to any explanation of 9/11 as it really focuses on the human aspect (yes, through a tree) and also provides an example of resilience that children may connect with in less dire circumstances. Our family has enjoyed Rubin's other books, and living in the New York area particularly in his renderings of New York City and while this book is more serious and cannot have the whimsy of "Bolivar," simple details from coffee cups to subway signs really bring the City through.
925 reviews6 followers
June 18, 2021
I did not know the story of the Survivor Tree from 9/11 until I read this book. The author has done a wonderful job telling the actual story of the tree while creating a way for children to work through grief about 9/11 or just grief in general. I think this would be a great book to read during the first month of school this year (2021) because many children are going through a type of grief, or sadly actual grief, around the COVID virus. We need to show them that together we can support each other and recover but still acknowledge that memories and hurt might still be a part of the lives that we face. We don't come out of tragedy exactly the same but we can survive and appreciate who we are now.
709 reviews9 followers
May 10, 2021
What a heartbreakingly beautiful book. The words and illustrations are just gorgeous.
Be sure to have a tissue handy when you read this story.
I would share this with older children, as well as adults.
Profile Image for Ryan.
464 reviews
September 25, 2021
This Very Tree is about the events of 9/11 told from the perspective of the Callery pear tree that was planted at the spot of the Twin Towers. From its settlement, the tree always serviced itself to the many visitors that come by. When the towers collapsed, the tree survived, though damaged badly that it was taken to a nursey to recover. Years later, it was moved back to the old spot, now back with its full branched and flowers. Written in a soft tone, it symbolizes the resilience, recovery, and hope that sprouted in itself and the community in the face of national tragedy and as a tribute to the first responders.
Profile Image for Jillian Heise.
2,286 reviews482 followers
July 27, 2021
A story of trauma, grief, and recovery, beautifully told and illustrated. A post-9/11 resilience story, and so much more. Backmatter with an author's note and extra detail about the Survivor Tree, the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and history of the World Trade Center, and note about the accuracy of the illustrations add context and interest. A few pages are so stunningly illustrated they bring tears to the eye. This is a strong addition to any elementary library or collection of 9/11 picture books.
Profile Image for Mary.
2,606 reviews11 followers
September 24, 2021
Although 9/11 is not specifically referenced in the narration, this story is told from the viewpoint of a tree that was rescued after the collapse of the Twin Towers. Both text and illustrations tell a powerful story that will resonate with readers of all ages. A bittersweet tribute that honors the suffering of those who are gone as well as the survivors and those who worked to rebuild.
Profile Image for Pam.
641 reviews
December 30, 2021
A single Callery Pear tree somehow survived being buried by the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11. The tree was taken to a nursery where it regenerates and stands tall again and is transplanted into a plot in the rebuilt World Trade Center Plaza. It is a symbol of hope, rebirth and the power of a caring community. The illustrations are gentle and lovely and the text tells the story of this tragedy in a way that children will understand. The background notes provided by the author and the illustrator provide more details that can be shared with curious children who have questions.
Profile Image for Barbara Lovejoy.
2,077 reviews25 followers
July 10, 2021
What an amazing story!!!--true story! It is a book everyone will want to read.
Profile Image for Beth.
2,914 reviews196 followers
July 12, 2021
Grab your tissues for this one. This beautiful story of the tree that survived the fall of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 will take your breath away and bring tears to your eyes.
Profile Image for Karen Arendt.
2,671 reviews12 followers
May 3, 2022
The perfect story of resilience. While discussing 9/11 with children is very hard to do, this book highlights the strength and resilience of the tree and can also show children how they can be resilient too.
186 reviews5 followers
May 27, 2021
A poignant narrative of the Twin Towers and the World Trade Center, the tragedy of 9/11, and the survival of the plaza's Callery pear tree from the imagined perspective of the tree. When two planes crashed into the skyscrapers, it was buried in the midst of 1.8 million tons of wreckage. Found a month later with its roots snapped and branches burned and broken, it was given to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in hopes that it could be healed. Against all odds, the tree survived and was incorporated into the 9/11 Memorial. The main body of text tells the tree's story, while an appended author's note and more information are included in the backmatter.
Profile Image for Laura Harrison.
999 reviews111 followers
September 14, 2021
Sean Rubin created a remarkable book. It has been 20 years since the Twin Towers and so many lives were destroyed or forever changed. As a born and bred New Yorker this atrocity is very personal. Rubin creates a moving yet incredibly hopeful story from the perspective of the Callery Pear tree. Long title, but This Very Tree is accessible to children. They will get it. Nothing preachy or frightening. A badly damaged and covered by debris and ash, Callery pear tree is discovered about a month after the attack. It was removed by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and taken to the Arthur Ross Citywide Nursery in the Bronx to hopefully heal. The park workers provided great care to the Survivor Tree for 9 years. It was then returned to NYC and replanted at the new plaza. Seedlings from the Survivor Tree are sent to suffering communities all over the world. Sean Rubin includes real pictures and additional informational text. The illustrations are warm and soft. The book was set with Gotham and Adobe Garamond typefaces. Chosen because they appear on the cornerstone of the current One World Trade Center. I love that kind of detail which is found throughout the book. I believe This Very Tree has a great chance of winning a 2022 Caldecott. A Caldecott win might also help keep the memory of this terrible day alive for many generations to come. And not just on 9/11.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 144 reviews

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