Review: Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach


Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach

Based on a true story, this picture book follows Jessie, a subway car, from her “birth” until her unusual ending.  Jessie was a New York City subway car that carried people and things around the city.  At first, she was new and shiny, but eventually she was covered in graffiti and then painted red.  She kept on working, running on tracks around the city.  Then she was used only in the winter because her fans could not keep up with the heat, and finally she wasn’t used any more.  But Jessie’s travels and adventures were far from over!  Whatever will happen to her when she is shipped by barge and taken far from land!

Sarcone-Roach has created a picture book that seems to be quiet and then takes a turn into the unexpected.  She begins with a true story and then personalizes it through the eyes of one specific subway car.  It works really well as a technique to make the subject very child friendly and to invite readers in to experience the story.  The writing is clear and Jessie’s perspective is strong and active. 

Her art is also very successful.  The colors are deep and jewel-like, showing the beauty of the city as well as the subway lines.  She plays with perspective throughout, stacking the subway lines like shelves, showing both the outside and inside of the subway cars, and always showing Jessie with her smiling headlights and chains. 

This is a lovely book that works well on many levels.  Use it for an unexpected take on recycling, add to your transportation stories, or just share it to see the children guessing where Jessie is headed on that barge.  They are sure to be entranced by the answer.  I certainly was!  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Alfred A. Knopf.

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