Friday, May 25, 2012

Subway Story

written and illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
Knopf/Borzoi Books | October 11, 2011

Jessie was "born in St. Louis, Missouri" and "weighed 75,122 pounds and was 51 1/2 feet long." Jessie is a New York City subway car who works hard and long through the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Soon, she is old and tired and while she thinks she's going to receive repairs, she is instead stripped down and dumped into the ocean. There, she becomes an artificial reef, complete with fish and corals and other sea creatures. "Jessie was once an important part of the city where she lived. And now a whole city lives inside her."

The book is appended with fantastic back matter including an extensive Author's Note about how this actually happens with older subway cars in NYC, websites to visit for more information, and a bibliography. Considering the book is a fictionalized account, the back matter is impressive.

The design is fantastic. Bright illustrations done with acrylic paint on paper stand out on the glossy pages. End papers in the front are the subway tracks and in the back are the swirly blue of the sea water. The title page display text looks like the tile/brick often found on signage in older subway systems. The majority of the pages are double spreads. The text is simple and clear. While the book does personify a subway car, it works, much in the way Little Toot still works (for me, anyway!).

My sister reported my niece was a little worried for Jessie's fate for a bit, but then reveled in her new job under the sea, so I can safely say reader response is good for this one. City kids and country kids alike will likely love Jessie's story.

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