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Review of SEPTEMBER ROSES by Jeanette Winter

by Julie Brinker

Winter, Jeanette. 2004. SEPTEMBER ROSES. New York: Frances Foster, Farrar Straus Giroux. ISBN 0374367361

This beautiful, terrible memory of Sept. 11, 2001, is simple enough for young children, but powerful enough for adults to appreciate even more. Winter tracked down the story of the two South African sisters who created a tribute to the fallen World Trade Towers in the roses they had brought across the Atlantic to display at a cancelled flower show. Illustrated with simple, cartoon-like drawings, the middle third, which plunges into black and white chaos, is especially evocative of that time in our history.

Winter's text is spare, and completely integrated with the illustrations: "High in the air/ the two sisters sat dreaming/ of their roses" (the illustration surrounding the text shows a plane full of people flying among clouds and roses, while a very small sketch of the Manhatten skyline in the bottom right corner includes the two planes aimed at the Twin Towers); the page turns to "Then the sky turned black" (as huge clouds of gray and black smoke engulf obscure the buildings over the full two-page spread); and, after another page turn, "Their airplane landed" (a frantic and expressionistic view in black and white of people, including the two sisters, at the airport with three TV monitors carrying the events and banks of information monitors reading "cancelled" over and over). (n.p.) The School Library Journal review of 9/01/04 states in part: "The spare and poetic text, small-sized format, and simple drawings give these painful days a direct and personal resonance. . . Winter's offering captures the intensity of emotion that was felt that day and the healing human connections that soon followed."

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