Saved by the Boats by Julie Gassman is a picture book about September 11, 2001 and the ways the boats in New York Harbor came to the rescue of thousands of stranded New Yorkers. For me the most striking aspect of this book is the illustrations, as they so nicely capture the sense of togetherness that occurred during the tragedy.
In her art, Ms Gassman portrays a blue sky, and the rest of the city and the people are black and white line drawings with a simple feel. The city silhouette, the groups of people travelling from one side of town to the other: these are the simple illustrations in the book. As the story is told, there is a dark cloud of billowing smoke, and the faces of the people are now given a slightly different color: a light gray, to represent the ash that covered them.
Any book about 9/11 is going to feel haunting in a way, and the illustrations in Saved by the Boats do feel haunting. It was a tragedy of massive proportion. Of course I remember the day and the emotion we felt as we watched those tours fall.
Yet there were so many details in the illustrations that gave Saved by the Boats a hopeful feel. There were details in the lines on the people: children, men, women, even babies. We cannot ignore that these were real people suffering. The contrast between those helping and those escaping was poignant. Those escaping were covered in the gray ash and they were mingled in the boats with Coast Guard workers who were comforting and carrying. Despite the tragedy of the day, it was a day of helping and love.
Note: I received a digital copy for review consideration.