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Towers Falling

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about the book




Last year, when my family became homeless, my best friend Keisha stopped talking to me—like I was catching or something.

We’re living at Avalon Family Residence right now. Believe me, it sounds a lot nicer than it is: peeling paint, cockroaches, and a tiny room for all five of us. It makes me want to break something…not that we have anything for me to break.

The reason we’re in this mess is because Pop can’t hold a job.

I’m not sure what to think of my new school yet. All the kids went on vacations during the summer, plus they actually sit quietly in their seats when Miss Garcia claps her hands. It’s crazy. Ben and Sabeen might be okay though.

When my fifth-grade class begins a unit on September 11th, I have no clue how something that happened so long ago can be relevant. It was fifteen years ago! But then Pop gets really angry whenever I mention the two towers that fell.

What’s going on? Why is Pop so upset?teachingbooks-book

about the author

Jewell Parker RhodesBorn and raised mainly by her grandmother Ernestine in the largely African-American neighborhood of Manchester in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jewell Parker Rhodes always loved listening to her grandparent’s tales each evening on the front porch of their old house. Those stories shaped Jewell’s career as a writer. She wrote her first children’s book, Day 26, on yellow construction paper when she was just eight years old.

Her grandparents supported Jewell through college, first at the Community College of Allegheny Country and then as a theater and English major at Carnegie Mellow University. She continued on at Carnegie earning a doctorate in Creative Writing.

Jewell writes for both adults and for children. She also writes for the theatre. Grandmother Ernestine was the inspiration for her adult novels Voodoo Dreams and Douglass’ Women. The play Voodoo Women has won many awards.

Sugar was inspired by Lucy Cohen’s book Chinese in the Post-Civil War South: A People Without History. Since Jewell has travelled to China to teach creative writing, she became fascinated with the thought of the Chinese and ex-slaves working side by side in the Deep South. She was thinking of writing an adult novel when a little black girl popped into her mind. The girl was just standing there with her hands on her hips, complaining about having to work so hard. Sugar, the character and the novel, was born!

Jewell is currently the Artistic Director and Chair of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She continues to travel internationally, teaching creative writing to all ages and helping her students teach in such global settings as China, Singapore, and Wales.

Author website
Author interview: Post-Gazette

Also by Jewell Parker Rhodes:
Bayou Magic. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2015.
Ninth Ward. Little, Brown and Company. 2010.teachingbooks-author

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When Lucas gets a concussion during football, his parents decide the sport is too dangerous and he needs to quit. Needing to talk to his biggest fan, Uncle Benny, Lucas skips school and goes to the firehouse. Just as he gets there, chaos erupts and changes everything.






Nine, Ten : A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
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Saved by the Boats : The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11 by Julie Gassman
On the morning of September 11th, the sky was a brilliant blue. Then tragedy struck the Twin Towers and more than a million commuters were trying to leave the city. But water held them back. Tugboats, ferryboats, private boats—any vessel available—rushed to help people evacuate. How many people did the captains and their crews rescue?