Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach
I remember being captivated by some photographs I saw a couple of years ago of subway cars being submerged in the ocean and becoming coral reefs. The idea that they could have a new life after spending years as part of the heart and soul of my city was very touching. So I was thrilled to come across Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach; she took that image and created a beautiful picture book about it.
In Subway Story we follow a subway car created especially to carry visitors around New York during the 1964 World Fair. She was a beautiful blue and cream car, shiny and new. She loved being a subway car and cruising around the city, enjoying the noises and sounds of the busy metropolis. As the years passed, she changed, got updated, graffitied and repainted. Eventually, her old venting systems could not withstand the warm summers and she's replaced by brand new subway car models. One day, they remove all her parts and place her in a barge that took her and other old cars out into the Atlantic Ocean. She was dropped into the ocean floor and soon found new passengers among the fish, turtles and seaweeds.
Subway Story is a very sweet tale. It reminded me of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, in the way we get attached to the subway car and see her find a new productive life once she's become outdated. I loved the detail in the final illustration of the book, where in one side of the page we see the subway car as part of the coral reef with fish swimming through its doors, and then those same fish turn into the mosaics characteristic of old subway stations. A great read aloud to share, especially with all the kids obsessed with trains and transportation. Lovely.