Project Description

Teacher’s Guide

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel

by Janet Nolan
illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

The USS New York is big like other navy ships, and it sails like other navy ships, but there is something special about this navy ship.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, a beam from the World Trade Center Towers was given to the United States Navy. The beam was driven from New York to a foundry in Louisiana, where the seven and a half tons of steel, which had once been a beam in the World Trade Center, became a navy ship’s bow.

Powerful text from Janet Nolan is paired with stunning illustrations from New York Times best-selling illustrator Thomas Gonzalez (14 Cows for America) in this inspiring story that reveals how something remarkable can emerge from a devastating event.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $17.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-912-4
Publication Date: 8/1/2016
Page Count: 36
Size: 11- 5/8″ x 10″
Age Range: 6 – 10
Language: English
F&P: GRL Q, Gr 4, Genre I
Lexile: AD820L
Themes: September 11, Shipbuilding, U.S. Navy
BISAC 1: JNF025250 JUVENILE NONFICTION / History / United States / 21st Century
BISAC 2: JNF057020 JUVENILE NONFICTION / Transportation / Boats, Ships & Underwater Craft
BISAC 3: JNF051120 JUVENILE NONFICTION / Technology / How Things Work-Are Made


“Gonzalez’s breathtaking spreads dazzle… The emphasis is not on damage and destruction, but on America’s power to recover. Teachers and parents looking for picture books that celebrate the nation and its military will welcome Nolan and Gonzalez’s work.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A deeply felt but not overwrought telling of a story that will be new to most young readers.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“This beautiful, sober, and hopeful recounting of a difficult chapter in American history is a stellar addition to history collections.” ―School Library Journal

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“Nolan’s recounting of the ship’s journey back to New York for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is reverent, as is her handling of the terror that spawned it. Gonzalez’s cinematic illustrations capture a wide range of emotions with grandeur and warmth…. This is a stirring tribute.”―BookPage

“Nolan’s straightforward and informative text perfectly complements Gonzalez’s beautiful full-page illustrations to capture the enormity of the transformation…. This earnest picture book will help put the events of 9/11 in context for children too young to remember it themselves.” ―Booklist Online

“This is a great book for the power of its story and images, as well as for sharing an important time in American history.” ―School Library Connection

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Teachers’ Choices ―International Literacy Association,  2017

Comstock Read Aloud Book Award (Honor) ―Minnesota State University Moorhead, 2017

Delaware Diamonds Award (Grades 3-5) ―Diamond State Reading Association, 2018

Illinois Reads (Grades 3-5) ―Illinois Reading Council, 2017

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Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List (Intermediate) ―Kansas National Education Association, 2017

Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Grades 3-5) ―Kentucky Association of School Librarians. 2018-2019

Magnolia Book Award (Short List, Grades 3-5) ―Mississippi Children’s Museum / MDE / MLA / MLC / USM, 2019

Books All Young Georgians Should Read ―Georgia Center for the Book, 2017

Alabama Camellia Award (Nominee, Grades 4-5 Nonfiction) ―Alabama Department of Education, 2017-2018

Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (Nominee, Picture Book) ―Maryland Association of School Librarians, 2017-2018

Charlotte Award (Nominee, Intermediate) ―New York State Reading Association, 2018

Delaware Diamonds (Nominee, Grades 3-5) ―Diamond State Reading Association, 2017-2018

Garden State Children’s Book Awards (Nonfiction Nominee) ―New Jersey Library Association, 2019

Great Lakes Great Books Award (Nominee, Grades 2-3)―Michigan Reading Association, 2017-2018

Horned Toad Tales (Nominee) ―Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District, 2017-2018

Land of Enchantment Book Awards (Nominee, Grades 3-5) ―New Mexico Library Association, New Mexico Council of ILA, 2018-2019

Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award (Nominee, Grades 3-5) ―State Library of Louisiana and Louisiana Center for the Book, 2019

Show Me Readers Award (Nominee) ―Missouri Association of School Librarians, 2018-2019

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Meet the Author

Janet Nolan is the author of several picture books. She has a BA from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and a master’s degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She lives in Illinois. You can visit her website here.

Meet the Illustrator

Thomas Gonzalez is an illustrator, designer, and portrait artist. A native of Cuba, Tom came to the United States when he was ten years old. He studied at the Atlanta School of Art (now called Savannah of Art and Design). After working at the Coca-Cola Company for more than twenty years, Tom held several creative positions with other global brands. He has illustrated many picture books, including 14 Cows for AmericaSeven and a Half Tons of Steel, and Countdown. He lives in Georgia. You can visit his website here.