Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: Down In The Subway

Down In The Subway
Story by Miriam Cohen
Art by Melanie Hope Greenberg
Star Bright Books, New York

Just perfect for this time of year, here's a book that just makes you feel all bright and summery. Down In The Subway tells the story of Oscar's ride on the subway, and what happens one particular day when commuting with his mom and baby brother. Restless Oscar gets up and twirls holding onto a pole, when a woman (the Island Lady) asks him if he would like to see what is in her bag. Oscar's mom gives her approval, and from there we are taken on a magical subway ride fantasy. Each spread features island entertainment more delightful than the last. I won't spoil any of the fun spreads for you by pointing out any details but I will say that the writing and the art mesh beautifully—both wear a laid-back island vibe that bring the party right to the reader, no invitation needed.

The folk-art illustrations feature the soft and bright colors of caribbean island life, and the characters are full of personality (including the subway car itself). The design layout, illustrations and text all work together in unison. Some elements of the illustrations, for instance, are used as a backdrop for text to perfect effect. The art appears to be in gouache paint, so gouache illustration fans- this is one for you to check out!

This is a great book for those who love New York City since it is also a lovely homage to NYC as well. A super fun book with a lot of energy and spice, and a lot of "music" in the pages!


melanie hope greenberg said...

Thank you so much, Kathy. What a delightful surprise!

While painting this book I discovered The Island Lady was Mother Nature. She bestows upon the subway riders her never ending gifts of Air (breeze), Water (sea), Earth (food) and Fire (musicians). The author thought she was just writing about her friend. But it was much more for me. It was my growth in doing yoga that is all over that book. The train is the chi/kundalini/shakti in the spinal canal (tunnel). The Island Lady transforms everything in her path, bringing them from the dark into the light. And Oscar will carry on what he learned.

Kathy Weller said...

Wow! Thanks so much for sharing your point of view and reference! How fascinating!

I love that the book comes across as so simple and inviting, yet if you look a little closer/deeper there are a myriad of little gems and ways to interpret the working parts (just as a truly excellent children's book should do)!

Nina Crittenden said...

Such a fun review! Melanie's work never fails to impress! :)

Ann Marie DiVecchia said...

I went to Melanie Hope Greenberg's workshop at an SCBWI conference. She discussed the work in this book which is nothing short of delightful as was the workshop! I enjoyed reading Melanie's comments above. It interests me when something comes back into my life. Thanks for another great book review!