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  • Writer's pictureClover

One Step at a Time

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

In our nation and world dark times occur that shake us to the core. Yet in the end hope prevails as we muddle through our pain and loss together. This month, Clover has chosen three poignant books that focus on times that nearly brought us to our knees — it’s grace and goodness that saw us through, that enabled us to heal and face the future, “One Step at a Time.” Join Clover in offering a nod and thanks to those who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms.

The Community Literacy Foundation, with support from it's sponsors, provides these books to 38 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at

Youngest Read

September 11 marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a day children might not remember, but every adult certainly does. “Branches of Hope, the 9/11 Survivor Tree” by Ann Magee, delicately and beautifully describes the horrific tragedy that took so many lives and forever altered history.

When the Twin Towers fell in New York City, fire raged, steel crashed down and ash covered everything — even a pear tree at the site, its limbs charred, and amputated in the blast — yet bits of green remained, a beacon that stood out and was heralded by shocked people hungry for a symbol of rebirth.

The tree was taken to a nursery in the Bronx where it was tenderly cared for; slowly, gradually, new growth sprouted, just as slowly and gradually Americans young and old began to heal, and life, though different, returned to some semblance of normal.

The Survivor Tree, as it became known, was returned to the place where the Twin Towers once stood, its survival a balm for crushed souls. This thoughtful story, with stirring illustrations by Nicole Wong, makes the difficult subject of 9/11 accessible to the youngest of readers.

Middle Read

Our servicemen and women, no matter their branch, give their all to the United States — sometimes even their lives. “Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” by Jeff Gottesfeld, pays tribute to those serving our country who have died and haven’t been able to be identified or returned to their homeland.

These brave individuals are honored in a tomb at Arlington National Cemetery, a tomb that symbolizes their ultimate sacrifice and serves as their final resting place. Every war from the Revolutionary War forward is represented at this sacred tomb.

Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days of the year, sentinel guards work in shifts to guard the tomb. Decked out in meticulous uniforms, these men and women march in front of the tomb, their uniforms perfectly pressed, their shoes shined, their faces somber with the responsibility of honoring the fallen, so those who have died are never alone in the dark of night or the light of day.

Atmospherically appropriate, respectful illustrations by Matt Tavares help tell the story of the tomb, which was established on Nov. 11, 1921, a hallowed date that became known as Veterans Day.

Oldest Read

“A Place to Hang the Moon,” by author Kate Albus, raises our awareness of children displaced by World War II, forced to flee cities in Great Britain for the countryside where bombing wouldn’t be as likely.

Albus uses three delightful characters to tell her story, siblings readers will admire. William Pearce is the 12-year-old caretaker of Edmund, 11, and Anna, age 9. The three have suffered much. Orphaned after the loss of their parents, they’ve been raised by a grandmother who has ice in her veins.

The story opens at her funeral as the wartime evacuation of British children gets underway. Though the Pearce brood has inherited a large amount of money, this doesn’t help with finding them a home. They’re in the same boat as the other children being shipped out — alone and lonely arriving in villages where they’ll be placed with families volunteering to house them for a small sum of money.

William, Edmund and Anna have quite a time when the Foresters take them in — a man and woman and their twin boys, bratty brothers that try the Pearce siblings’ patience to the umpteenth degree. The only solace the Pearces find is at the library, where books offer a welcome escape from their stressful situation, a library overseen by a woman with a kind heart, an outsider with her fellow villagers.

There’s much to adore in this fast-read that celebrates courage in the face of discord. A list of the books the Pearce children read and talked about is included at the back of the book.

Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2021, Community Literacy Foundation. Reprinted with permission.

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