A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Detailed account of how the first subway in New York City was built. Terrific demonstration of innovative thinking and how promising ideas can become derailed yet still have lasting value. Introduces basic concepts regarding pneumatic tubes, urban planning, and 19th-century political machines. Author's note provides more context, background, and resources. Inside the book jacket, the illustrator shows how he created the three-dimensional artwork.
Achievements may not be celebrated in their time but can still prove to be historically significant. Everyday things we take for granted today can have fascinating and unexpected histories. Even innovations that don't seem to go anywhere can help lay the path into the future.
Positive Role Models
Inventor Beach is creative and resourceful. Forced to deal with a corrupt political establishment, he resorts to deception to pursue his plans.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Secret Subway chronicles New York's first subway, which was built secretly in an attempt to get around the corruption of Tammany Hall -- and forgotten for years until construction of the subway system we know today got started. While the book does a solid job explaining the political challenges in broad brushstrokes, parents may need to explain a little more to this young audience about Boss Tweed and political machines and why the subway's inventor resorted to deception to work on his project. The history is fascinating, and astonishing artwork using clay model figures and meticulously designed scenes brings this curious, well-told story to life.
Is It Any Good?
The story of how Alfred Beach tried to build an early subway for New York City is fascinatingly recounted for the picture-book set with vivid, lively language and jaw-dropping artwork. THE SECRET SUBWAY is a quirky bit of history -- how many books aimed at preschoolers talk about Boss Tweed? -- and Shana Corey does an admirable job explaining the obstacles Beach faced in an accessible, engaging way.
The extraordinary artwork by Red Nose Studio (aka Chris Sickels) merits a full pictorial explainer on the inside of the book jacket. Resembling stills from an animated film, they're composed of clay model figures, cardboard collage backgrounds, hand-drawn accents, and meticulously crafted details. The innovative themes may prompt readers to start building their own dioramas.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.