Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Pick for the Older Sibling: Subway Story

Jesse loves being a subway car in the city. She especially loves helping people go places. The recounting of her work and the people she carries is enthralling and simple enough for kids to understand even if they don't have experience with subways.

After a quarter of a century of service, she and older cars like her are replaced by newer models. At first, Jessie fears she will be abandoned and forgotten.

But when she is hauled away on a barge with other old cars, she is momentarily scared that her fate will be even worse. Even though I knew what was likely coming because I'd read the book flaps, I felt a pang of concern for her myself because I truly cared about this subway car by now. (Young readers will worry here too, but the dark moment passes in the turn of a page.)

All ends well when, in a very satisfying conclusion, Jessie (and the other subway cars) finds a new job in the sea as part of the underwater reef. Now...

Tiny creatures called coral cling to the same poles
that people held on to when Jessie lived and worked aboveground.
Hundreds of fish dart through the doors that people once used.

This picture book has heart. The author sent me on a journey from happiness to despair to happiness again, right along with Jessie herself. I like that the recycling message grows out of the story rather than being forced upon it.

This wonderful tale is based on the true story of 1960s era subway cars that are currently being used to create artificial reefs in the Atlantic Ocean. The one-page author's note at the end offers interesting factual info about the project of creating underwater reefs.

Subway Story
Author-illustrator: Julia Sarcone-Roach
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011

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