Book review: The Secret Subway, by Shana Corey, illustrated by Red Nose Studio

Corey, Shana. The Secret Subway. Illus. Red Nose Studio. 9780375870712. Schwartz & Wade, 2016. $17.99. 32p. 9780375870712. Ages 4-8. P9Q9

Corey Secret SubwayBefore the current New York subway, there was a train powered by a fan that safely took people under busy Broadway for several years, beginning in 1870. Although extremely popular, the “subway” took people just a few blocks before they had to return to the beginning because the 1873 Depression deprived the creator of any additional funds. Chris Sickels modeled and photographed elaborate dioramas with cardboard, mechanical objects, and clay figurines to illustrate the city and the underground, using the same technique as in Here Comes the Garbage Barge. The narrative describes how inventor Alfred Ely Beach built the eight-foot-wide tunnel after getting permission to make a pneumatic mail delivery system. After the railway was abandoned and Booth died in 1896, it was forgotten until 1912 when workers on the official New York subway discovered the decaying railroad car in a tunnel. A real joy to the book is the back of the jacket that shows the artist’s process. An author’s note and list of resources are included in the back.

April 2016 review by Nel Ward.

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