The Crosby Chronicles: A tragedy grows in Brooklyn

It’s strange how fiction and reality can often cross paths.

In my last blog post, I talked about the classic novel “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” a fictional story set in Brooklyn over 100 years ago about the struggles of an impoverished immigrant family to make a life in the U.S.

This week, the real Brooklyn was brought to the forefront of the news surrounding the true story of the tragic killing of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky.  Leiby was a young boy who finally got the permission of his parents to walk home alone from his day camp on Monday, got lost, then got killed by a man who evidently had no prior criminal record, a man who decided not only to kidnap a child, but to kill him, and cut him into pieces.  How do rational people grapple with such evil?

What parent doesn’t think of the worst nightmare possible that could happen to their children, that of being abducted in their own neighborhood?  How often do we drill our children on not talking to strangers, etc., etc.?  At some point, however, we have to allow our kids to be independent.

I know how heavy-hearted my wife and I felt when allowing our then 11-year-old son to walk home from school.  Even though it’s only two blocks, I was relieved each afternoon when he called me at work that he had arrived home safely.

There are certain stories that bind all people, regardless of ethnicity or religion.  The senseless murder of a little boy touches a human nerve that reminds us all that no matter how parents try their best to protect their children, they are not superheroes.  And that’s a hard reality to swallow.

Brian Crosby is a teacher at Hoover High School and the author of Smart Kids, Bad Schools and The $100,000 Teacher.  He can be reached at

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