AMERICA IS UNDER ATTACK
By Don Brown
Roaring Brook. $16.99. Ages 9-12
In his “Actual Times” series, Don Brown takes historical events and presents them with great immediacy by zeroing in on a single day. For his latest, Brown focuses on a recent cataclysm that adults may have trouble discussing with children. Brown presents Sept. 11 as a terrible anomaly — caused by individuals on four planes out of hundreds in the air — and then he emphasizes the bravery of the rescue workers. “Within seventeen minutes of the crash, a thousand fire, police, and rescue workers swarmed the World Trade Center. Many were off-duty.” Brown focuses on the World Trade Center (two spreads convey a measure of the horror at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa.), delivering the awful news one fact at a time. Crisp pencil-and-watercolor illustrations convey both the shocks and the heroics of the day. These pictures feature unusual perspectives, like that of the man who saw the second jet coming straight at his 81st-floor office and survived, and the fellow who emerged from a stuck elevator into a scene of unimaginable destruction. Brown also talks about those who didn’t make it out, including rescue workers who couldn’t be reached because of communication breakdowns. Straightforward but quietly sorrowful, the narrative stands as a fine introduction to a bitter reality.