'9 of 1: A Window to the World'
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[JULY 14, 2004]
of 1: A Window to the World," by Oliver Chin, Frog Ltd., 2003, 112 pages
"9 of 1: A Window to the World" is a
graphic novel in which nine fictionalized members of an 11th-grade
class are given an assignment after the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.
The students live in the Fremont, Calif., area and are students at
James Madison High School. Matthew Pearson is their teacher for U.S.
After Sept. 11 Mr. Pearson found it
very difficult to engage his class in their regular lessons. The
class was so distracted that he knew he must find a way to make
history relevant for them right now.
He assigned each student an oral report
due at the end of the semester. They were to interview a complete
stranger, someone they had never met. The person could be male or
female but must be at least twice their age. They were to ask the
people their opinion of the event known as "9/11." He told the
students that even though they might disagree with the views of the
people they interview, their job is to let them say their piece.
Afterward they could evaluate where the person interviewed was
coming from and why.
Mr. Pearson told them they needed to
become media critics. Because they were being bombarded with so much
information, they needed to learn to analyze what they were seeing
and hearing. They needed to question why some stories were covered
and others weren't. Mr. Pearson booked field trips to local
newsrooms, and the students interviewed the reporters about
gathering information, primary and secondary sources, and balancing
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The students felt as if life would
never be the same again. Some of them immersed themselves in routine
things and usual activities to pass the time. Other students ignored
the project as long as possible. As the students got out into the
community and began interviewing people of diverse backgrounds, they
discovered more than they bargained for and that "9/11" cannot
easily be reduced to an "us versus them" mentality.
Library Journal refers to "9 of 1" as
an educational work. Publisher's Weekly describes the novel this
way: "Half comic, half textbook and wholly readable, Chin's ‘9 of 1'
presents a kaleidoscopic vision of the United States post-Sept. 11,
a nation made up of countless immigrants encountering each other
every day in the most ordinary ways."
contains a set of discussion questions for each of the nine
interviews. Chin provides the reader with plenty of historical
background and differing worldviews. Even though you will find
viewpoints different from your own, it is a very interesting and
eye-opening read. It is recommended for age 12 and up.
Public Library District]