SUBWAY – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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I want to add another couple of New York books to my others for Perfect Picture Book Friday, so we have a series that would be great for a few lessons around the BIG APPLE!


By Christoph Niemann

Published by Greenwillow Books, 2010

Ages: 3-8

Themes: New York, subway, transportation

Opening Lines/Synopsis:

It’s cold and wet. What can be done?

A trip on the subway. Just for fun!

Flap Cover – “A father. 2 children. And more than 840 miles of track. What does it add up to? Something thrilling! Are you ready for SUBWAY?”

SUBWAY is a marvelous kids’ journey that describes a rainy day of exploring the New York City subway system, by the author and his two sons. It is an ode to New York City’s mass transit system, which is described as “a way of life” for New Yorkers. The incredible black and bold, thick primary colored pages give the illusion of hurtling through the dark tunnels at incredible speeds. Under the ground is an incredible system of letters, numbers and colors, that kids can relate to. You can take the A train from jazzy Harlem all the way to sleepy Far Rockaway. Or check out the view as the Q crosses over the East River. Kids will have fun with the map. The three figures are humorously depicted in the style of figures on signs; The text is simple and rhyming (though the rhyme/meter fails a little at times for me) and will appeal to even the very young.

At Bergen the F is sad to see

he has to separate from his friend the G.

The G says, “Don’t cry. I will meet you

Again at Roosevelt Avenue.”

Why I like this Book:

Every page is a graphic blast, with careful rhyming stanzas describing the action of the subway for each separate line. SUBWAY is sure to enchant children ages 2-5 with its journey through the mysterious pathways of the subterranean world of the NYC subway system. The schematic of the subway lines, Times Square etc is incredibly accurate. It would be a great introduction to children coming from locations without an undergound rail system. New York kids will love tracing the lines of places they know.

I spent Oct-Dec last year getting to know certain lines on the New York subway well and I was thrilled to discover a picture book that depicts the experience so authentically in a child-centric fashion. It is a visual treat and captures the bustle of this big city so well. Gee I miss Brooklyn already!


A Goodreads suggestion – “I do think this would be great book to use with an art class to show how subtle changes makes the feel of the drawing different. It could also be used in teaching perspective.”

Subway map for students to check the accuracy of the text. For older children, I would then set them leaving and arrival points and have them plan some journeys!

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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26 Responses to SUBWAY – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. I LOVE the cover! Great synopsis! 🙂

  2. Linda Boyden says:

    Thanks, Joanna. I’ll add this to my To Read list!

  3. Saw this title and new it was your selection. What a wonderful idea for a book. I can see so many ways to use this book with kids. Especially in introducing a child who has never ridden on the subway. I like the bright colors.

  4. Rhythm says:

    I don’t know anything about subways. But I really like the cover of this book. Big, bold illustrations. I may have to check it out and see what subways are all about!

  5. Happy New Year, Joanna!
    What a fabulous book! I spent the first 25 years of my life in NYC…riding all of the mass transit available…I remember, as a young girl, getting on the train and, after going several stations, realizing that I was on the WRONG one…and was being taken to stops unknown. I panicked, got off, went upstairs, hailed a cab, gave him my address…and went home…ten dollars poorer but relieved to be ‘safe’.:)
    This looks like a really fun story…and a great addition to PPBF.

    • Joanna says:

      Vivian, you did the right thing in getting a cab! I made the same mistake as a kid catching the train home from school and sailing past my stop! aaargh

  6. Why is it that trains of any kind are so fun to ride on? 🙂 I love this choice, Joanna, so interesting, such great art, so different from many other picture books! And as a person who grew up with the NYC subways I like it a little bit extra 🙂 I don’t live in the city any more, but when my kids were little we took them for a ride on the Metro North train just for fun – to stations down, out at McKinney & Doyle for a muffin, then 2 stations home – totally fun 🙂 Thanks for sharing this book and reminding me of that fun train ride 🙂

    • Joanna says:

      I love the subway trip you did with your kids, Susanna. You are so right, all transport is fun for a child, but I think going underground has an extra thrill and trying to work out all these interweaving lines.

  7. Joanna, this looks like an amazing book. Thanks for sharing it. I only wish Los Angeles had a passable subway system. It would not be nearly as easy to run the boys around Los Angeles on the subway.

  8. I miss the NY subways – but not the smell! Good thing this is not a scratch and sniff book! LOL!

  9. What a cool book! I must find and read it. Since my recent trips to New York just involved landing at the airport and heading out of town, I have yet to experience the subway. Some day…

  10. LOL…. Julie cracked me up!
    What a great book Joanna. Twice we have been to New York and love exploring ways of getting around town. In fact, we never used a taxi, the Subway was so much more fun. Excellent resource for kids and big kids.. 🙂

  11. Sounds great, Joanna. My kids had their first subway ride the other week.

  12. Now this made me miss New York. 🙁 I hope I can find a copy of this one in our libraries here. 🙂 You must be loving it in the big city. I know that I fell in love with the ‘subway’ and the pulse of the city. Must really be a city girl at heart.

    • Joanna says:

      I am back in the UK at the moment, Myra, and missing New York (Brooklyn in particular) like crazy. I feel like a big girl getting around on the subway!

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  14. We live in NYC and my boys were completely obsessed with this book. OBSESSED!

  15. Joanna says:

    Recommendations don’t get any better than this!

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