by Julia Sarcone-Roach; illus. by the author
Primary Knopf 40 pp.
10/11 978-0-375-85859-8 $16.99
Library ed. 978-0-375-95859-5 $19.99
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
Review of Subway Story