by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Fifth grade student Dèja is starting the year at a new school in Brooklyn after her family moves into a shelter. Although the first day is filled with challenges, it is also filled with promise: a teacher who connects to her students, another new kid who reaches out to Dèja, and an interesting assignment across subjects. As Dèja and her classmates work on the question "What’s the difference between America’s far past and its recent past?" she discovers that the New York skyline she has always known used to have two defining towers that are no longer there. With her friends and family, she also makes discoveries about her community, her history, and the courage to continue healing.In her Author’s Note, Rhodes shares "I tried to create a book that teachers could teach.... that didn’t shy away from the tragedy but instead gave a sense of how citizens expressing our American identity were strong, brave, and triumphant over terror." In 2020, many Americans find ourselves grappling with our recent past and our far past, our identity as a community and country. For adults who may also be searching for ways to discuss the complexity of our far past and recent history with young readers, this is a powerful story to share together.