I Am the Subway by Kim Hyo-eun, translated by Deborah Smith

Published by Scribble US

I Am the Subway: Hyo-eun, Kim, Smith, Deborah: 9781950354658: Amazon.com:  Books

Summary:  A subway train that is part of the Seoul network (one of the longest in the world) tells the story of its travels.  At each stop, a new person gets on and tells a bit about their life.  There’s a grandmother taking fish to cook for her daughter and granddaughter, a shoemaker who can tell about people’s lives from studying their shoes, an overwhelmed high school student, an unemployed 29-year-old man, and more.  As each one boards, the narration switches to their voice, and a two-page spread gives us a bit of their story.  The voice of the subway closes the book: ‘The unique lives of strangers you might never meet again are all around you, every time you take the train.”  52 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  At first glance, this might look like a book for someone who likes trains, and it is that, but it’s also an invitation to slow down and notice the people all around you and to contemplate what kind of life each one of them might be living.  The watercolor portraits are beautiful renditions of the different people, and the poetic language could be used as a mentor text for narrative writing. I was kind of blown away by all that’s contained in this one picture book.

Cons:  The narrative structure of this book is different from most, with six pages of text before the title page and so many different voices, that it might be difficult for younger kids to understand all that is going on without some extra help.

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