#949 – Saved by the Boats by Julie Gassman and Steve Moors

9781515702757 Saved by the Boats: The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11
Written by Julie Gassman
Illustrated by Steve Moors
Encounter   8/01/2016
32 pages     Ages 9—12

“September 11, 2016, marks the 15-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

“September 11, 2001, was a dark day in U. S. history. Amid the chaos of the attacks, sea captains and crews raced by boat to the tragic scene. Nearly 500,000 people on New York City’s Manhattan Island were rescued that day in what would later be called the largest sea evacuation in history. In this rarely told story of heroism, we come to understand that, in our darkest hours, people shine brightly as a beacon of hope.” [back cover]

On the morning of September 11, 2001, New York City is beginning to awake when, at 8:46 and again at 9:03 AM a plane hits the World Trade Center, eventually causing its demise and the loss of too many innocent lives. As the white ash fell like snow upon those in the streets, fear escalated. On Manhattan Island, with subways, bridges, and tunnels shut down, the only way off the now terrorized island is by water. The Coast Guard put out a call to all boats and boat-captains within earshot to return to Manhattan and evacuate those waiting on its shore. Hundreds of boats answered the call. By nightfall, those boats evacuated nearly 500,000 people to the calm shores of New Jersey.


Saved by the Boats is one of those stories that get lost in the bigger news of the day. Honestly, this is the first I have heard about all the captains and boats who put themselves in possible danger to rescue people who were strangers. In the water, the boats were sitting ducks for any terrorist waiting in the wings to attack. No one knew if this would happen, but they all understood it was a possibility. Yet they saved the frightened, the injured, and those in shock. Saved by the Boats is a powerful fact-based story about unlikely heroes.

The text reads like most any story, yet despite the pretty prose, the author delivers a powerful story perfect for the sensibilities of middle grade students. With few wasted words, Gassman gets to the heart of the story without being scary. Most kids who will read Saved by the Boats were not yet born in 2001 and have no personal knowledge of that day. Through school and possibly home, these kids might have heard about 9/11, yet the story of the boats saving 500,000 people from further harm is one I doubt they know.


The illustrations present a brilliant blue sky on that hopeful morning. The planes hit and dark, bulbous smoke floats menacingly into the American air. Beyond and around those dark fumes, the brilliant blue sky remained; hope remained, resilience remained, and the American spirit remained. As hundreds of boats answered the call to act, unlikely heroes stepped forward to rescue one-half million people.

Saved by the Boats is an uplifting story from a frightening time in America’s history. Kids who read this understated picture book will understand how American’s run to aid each other—strangers—when hard times demand it. While 9/11 is a disgusting terrorist act, Saved by the Boats shines above the fray and deserves to be remembered. An author’s note recalls her own time in Manhattan on 9/11 and the boat she took to the Jersey shore. The captains’ voices lend legitimacy to their story and deserve to be heard.


SAVED BY THE BOATS: THE HEROIC SEA EVACUATION OF SEPTEMBER 11. Text copyright © 2017 by Julie Gassman. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Steve Moors. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Encounter, North Mankato, MN.

AmazonIndie BooksApple BooksCapstone Press

Find Saved by the Boats on Goodreads HERE.

Julie Gassman:  https://www.facebook.com/julie.gassman
Follow on Twitter          @multipliedluv

Steve Moors:  http://www.stevemoors.com/ 
Follow on Twitter          @urbanartbox

Capstone Press:  http://www.capstonepub.com/
Follow on Twitter          @CapstoneYR   AND   @CapstonePub

Encounter is an imprint of Capstone Press.

Reprinted with permission from SAVED BY THE BOATS: THE HEROIC SEA EVACUATION OF SEPTEMBER 11 © 2017 by Julie Gassman, Encounter, an imprint of Capstone Press, Illustrations © 2017 by Steve Moors.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Saved by the Boats: The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11
Written by Julie Gassman
Illustrated by Steve Moors
Encounter 8/01/2016


10 thoughts on “#949 – Saved by the Boats by Julie Gassman and Steve Moors

  1. I’ve seen this book all over lately, obviously with 9/11 just passing. I wish I knew of it when my kids were a bit younger, looks like a great way to show them the heroics of that day. They are reading John Hope’s Silencing Sharks right now, it’s been a great start to their middle school years, bullies are everywhere and trying to teach them to find an out let to get through the days.


  2. This is the first time I’ve heard the story about how the boats carried people to the Jersey Shores and out of harms way. I am so glad this story is being shared because it shows America at its best — heart, compassion and community.


    • The blue sky stands out in the author’s mind. She mentions this in both the story and in her endnote on her experiences of that day. She was in Manhattan and had to take a boat to leave the area–over to New Jersey. I think the blue sky is important to her story.

      I was home, in Ohio, watching the whole thing on television–after the fact. I can not even assume to know what it was like actually being there. I can’t imagine how you could ever forget, it is melded to your psyche as a trauma. I am very glad you and Cupcake are okay. The blue sky can be the promise of better days. (Now I’m being goofy, sorry).


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