cover image Subway Story

Subway Story

Julia Sarcone-Roach. Knopf, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-85859-8

Jessie is a New York City subway car who loves her job: carrying people (and the occasional Christmas tree or wedding cake) all over the city, accompanying subway musicians with clickety-clacks, zooming through subterranean tunnels. But what will become of Jessie when she’s too old to refurbish and repair? The upbeat answer: Jessie becomes part of an artificial reef in the Atlantic Ocean, “And now a whole city lives inside her.” Sarcone-Roach (The Secret Plan) so effectively portrays her heroine as an endearing, can-do machine that some readers may find Jessie’s journey to the ocean floor genuinely alarming. Because Jessie has no idea what’s happening to her, the pages that depict her being stripped of parts, loaded onto a boat full of anxious-looking subway cars, and dumped into the spooky depths of the ocean feel a bit like witnessing a mob hit. What’s more, Jessie’s sweet smile and eager eyes disappear once she becomes a reef; by erasing her personality and focusing on the aquatic life that takes up residence on and in Jessie, Sarcone-Roach ends with an obituary rather than a new beginning. Ages 5–9. (Oct.)