Seven and a Half Tons of Steel / by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. 1.2.2017

Peachtree ISBN 9781561459124

PRI Grades 1-5 Rating: 4

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel refers to a special navy ship, the USS New York. Following the events of September 11, 2001, the governor of New York gave the Navy a steel beam, weighing seven and a half tons, that was once inside one of the World Trade Towers. The beam was driven to a foundry in Louisiana where chippers, grinders, painters, and polishers worked on the beam. The construction metal workers toiled throughout Hurricane Katrina to turn it into the bow of the ship with the motto “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.” Thus, the USS New York’s story reveals how something remarkable can emerge from devastating events like September 11 and the Hurricane. Facts and figures are presented after the main narrative.

Thomas Gonzalez’s full-page illustrations are powerful, with every page arrayed in bold palette colors. The tones convey moods and action–as for example, reds and yellows and orange move across the metalworking furnace, and black and gray clouds billow from the towers and streams of morning light radiate the hull of the ship.

The images of destruction are shown respectfully but with flair. Author Janet Nolan’s narrative offers only a few sentences about September 11 and Hurricane Katrina so children may need more detail on both of these events to truly grasp the significance of the story.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ