Subway Story Hardcover – Oct 11 2011
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Starred Review, The Horn Book Magazine, November/December 2011:
Sarcone-Roach displays a discipline not always seen in books about the environment; she allows her theme of reuse and recycling to emerge naturally from a fine story and lets readers draw their own conclusions without adding a heavy-handed one of her own. Here youngsters meet Jessie, a subway car that begins service during the 1964 New York World’s Fair and contentedly operates for approximately fifty years before she is dismantled. Jessie and other cars like her are hauled out to sea and, in a small scary moment (which is quickly resolved), dumped into the ocean. There she happily resides as an artificial reef that’s home to myriad sea animals. Illustrations, unexpectedly cozy-looking, emphasize the story’s tone. Structurally and artistically, the book recalls Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House (rev. 11/42) (“Over the years, Jessie saw the city change, and she had some changes of her own”): Jessie’s half-century of traveling the city is depicted through a series of curved routes much like the streets and roads that close in on the Little House with the passage of time. Front end pages trace Jessie’s original underground route; final ones show a peaceful, blue ocean where she now rests. An author’s note describing the science behind similar projects and a bibliography conclude the book. betty carter
About the Author
After attending the Rhode Island School of Design, JULIA SARCONE-ROACH made her Knopf picture book debut with The Secret Plan. She is also the creator of animated videos, including Call of the Wild, which was featured in indie film festivals and won several prizes. Like Jessie, Julia is an avid traveler and has many adventures in mind for future picture books.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A gentle story of repurposing, of finding new uses for old things, for young children, told with lovely pictures. Reminiscent of one of my favorite children's picture books, The Little House.
"The cars were loaded onto a barge in the river, and a tugboat pulled the barge out of the city harbor. As the waves got bigger, Jessie felt the breezes whistle through her empty windows. Curious fish peered up at them as the barge moved into the open ocean.
`Will I ever get to see my city again?' Jessie nervously thought."
Jesse the subway car is born in St. Louis and soon moves to New York City. She falls in love with her work and the book wonderfully details her importance to the city. As time passes newer subway trains begin to take her place and she is put out to pasture so to speak. But Jesse finds new life on the bottom of the sea. The last line of the book beautifully captures this experience "Jesse used to be an important part of the city where she lived, now a whole city lives inside her"
The book is on par with the depth exhibited in the works of Rosemary Welles, Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein.
My 4 year old son loves this book and often pulls it out at bedtime. It has allowed us to begin talking about some of the larger issues of life and aging. So if your emotional and intellectual limits for children's literature stop at "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" by all means steer clear of this book. Otherwise, buy it and support the depth and craft of this author's work.
The one downside of the story is the end. For anyone who has visited the NYC Transit museum in Brooklyn, you may know that NYC donates its old subway cars to become "reef starters." While this is true, and a great message about the circle of life, it may be difficult for younger kids to understand why Jessie is being dumped into the sea. Even my son, who adores this book, cried the first time we read it because he didn't understand.
I will say that I went to a reading of this book at our preschool book fair (unfortunately the author called in sick so it was read by a volunteer) and in that context, none of the kids got upset.
Overall, a great story for any child who loves subways.