Medford author writes about 9/11 for young readers

Ann Magee bases children’s story on a tree that survived a historic day

Author Ann Magee’s debut work is “Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree,” a story for young readers from the perspective of 9/11.

A Medford Township author has made her publishing debut with a new children’s book inspired by 9/11.

Ann Magee’s work, called “Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree,” is about a Calley pear tree that survived the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City, and it offers young readers the chance to embark on a journey of hope.

Magee is an educator who has combined her love for teaching and children’s literature to create the book, the idea for which came from her own experience on Sept.11, 2001 and a visit to the 9/11 memorial sites in Manhattan.

Like many parents at the time, Magee was going through the motions of getting her daughter to her first day of preschool on that early September morning. Her husband later called and told her to turn on the TV. The images she saw and her account of that morning would later inspire the storyline in “Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree.”

The idea of the tree, Magee explained, came to her unexpectedly during a trip to the 9/11 memorial and museum. She describes stumbling on a pamphlet in the gift store about the a Callery pear tree that survived the events of that day, and she felt the urge to spread the

word about the tree’s journey of growth and resilience.

“I gravitate toward things that are so interesting and unbelievable, and I can’t believe that I hadn’t heard of it yet, and how important a story it is, and it should be out there in the world,”  Magee said.

“This is a story that people need to know about. This is a story that will help people.” she said

The young girl described in the book was based on Magee’s own daughter, and reflects her  child’s growth throughout the years. Another character in the story is the young girl’s uncle, a  firefighter who is also based on a real person, according to Magee. He represents the many first responders who were part of that awful day.

Magee also noted the multiple layers of the book, emphasizing that there are aspects of it for all ages to enjoy. One represents the idea of family trees and the growing of further generations.

“For me, another layer of this book was the fact that this family, this little girl with her firefighter uncle, continues the family line of firefighters, just like we look to family trees and look for growth,”  she said. “And things we pass on to our kids.”

By reaching further generations with her book, Magee hopes to spread the message of hope to all readers.

“This is going to reach people of different ages,” she said. “And these are little kids now (for whom) this is a book about history. It’s not something they were alive for, so it’s history to them.

“My hope is that when they come to read this book, they have a better understanding of the sort of smaller stories that happened that day,” the author added.

As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Magee hopes “Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree” will shed light on the different perspective of 9/11 for young readers.

“I want them to have a hopeful story about 9/11,” she emphasized. “They’re eventually going to have to know all of those facts about the historical event, but for now they can know even though something bad happened, a lot of hope and positivity can come out of something like this.”

When she is not writing to encourage the readers of tomorrow, Magee is an assistant teacher at  Medford’s Cranberry Pines Elementary School. She is also a wife and a mother to three children who has taught classes at the Medford Arts Center and has held her own summer camp, “Rockin’ Arts,” that focused on the creative, literary, and dramatic arts.

Magee will be present for book signings on 9/11 at Inkwood Books in Haddonfield, between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and Words Matter in Pitman, from 1 to 2 p.m. She will also be at the Medford Arts Center for a reading and signing on Sept. 12, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.