Alumni Notes


On That Day

Like many people she knew, Andrea Liberman Patel ’77 searched for explanations after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Her reactions, in words and illustrations, led to her children’s book on that day (Star Root Press, 2001)—her attempt to make sense of the world at a most basic level.

This, her first book project, seeks to explain a troubling and confusing subject through colorful illustrations and comforting words suited for young children, but relevant to readers of all ages. “I felt as bewildered and scared as a 3-year-old. The words were really for me,” she says.

To her amazement, the book has become an immediate success, receiving local press and public radio and television spots. “It very much feels like this book has a life of its own,” she says. “It still stuns me.” Nearly one-fifth of the 5,000 copies were donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Site to be distributed to the families of the victims. Eighteen percent of the proceeds benefit a fund to support families.

As a Massachusetts pre-school teacher, Patel has spent the last 12 years relating to young children. Like adults, they, too, need tools to encourage discussion about troubling events, she says.

Patel studied flute as a College music major at Oberlin; she never considered herself an artist. “I don’t draw and I don’t paint,” she says, which comes as a surprise given her book’s carefully crafted, bright, color illustrations, which she created by using her own homeopathic technique. During student naptimes in her classroom, Patel tore images from tissue paper and dipped them in hot chocolate, tea, or coffee to create the skin tones of her various characters.

“Adults and kids have responded very emotionally to the book,” she says, noting that schools nationwide have begun using it in class. “But hearing directly from people in New York, that’s the most gratifying.

– Matthew E. Green ’02


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