Something that I adore and deeply appreciate about TOON Books is the attention to detail that goes into each book. Of course the writing and illustrations are exemplary. The packaging is superb, from the trim size to the recognizable TOON wallpaper pattern that appears on the spine to the way that the books look so wonderful lined up on the shelf. TOON Books are so visually appealing and engaging that I often forget the rigorous and thorough educational attention that goes into these books. There is a lengthy section of Educator Tools on the website with a wealth of connections between the texts and Common Core State Standards. After taking a course for Instructional Media and Resource Assistants (librarians have so many different names these days! I am known as a "school library technician" in my district, which I think is a fancy way to get around compensating me for all that I do . . . ) I have a basic understanding of CCSS, what is expected and ways to teach it. I appreciate the way that CCSS focus on non-fiction and fiction texts together. I love making connections between books and CCSS gives me a directed way of doing that. It may be a coincidence or just plain serendipity and not a specific response to CCSS, but I feel like there is an increasing number of highly illustrated books being published that combine non-fiction with great narrative and stunning visual elements. Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure by Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio García Sánchez is a perfect example of this.
The plot of Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure is pretty simple. Pablo is the new kid in Mr. Bartle's class, arriving on Field Trip Day. Pablo tells his parents that he's not nervous, even though this marks yet another new school, and begs them to leave. Fortunately for Pablo, he gets partnered with Alicia, a stand-out kid, both for her cheery pink and green stripped leggins and for her super attitude. Despite telling his parents he is fine, Pablo has a bit of an attitude and is understandably wary of settling in.
This creates just the right amount of friction that results in Pablo and Alicia getting separated from the class and then from each other as they make their way through the underground world of the New York subway system and toward their final destination, the Empire State Building. Yes, this is a nightmare for teachers and parents, but the texts presents this situation and how the kids handle it with a calming level-headedness, intelligence and common sense that I hope all kids who ride the subway alone have. And the author notes reveal that Nadja Spiegelman began riding the subway alone when she was eleven! Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure is dotted with maps, archival pictures and fascinating facts about the subway. García Sánchez's illustrations are magnificent! He is masterful when it comes to packing an illustration full of detail - usually with busy, commuting New Yorkers - and at the same time making each face and feature crisp, recognizable and engaging. You will want to pore over the pages of Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure for hours, noting each expression on every face, each piece of graffiti and every sign - and you will be rewarded for doing so!
Like every TOON Book, Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure is filled with extra information at the back of the book, including facts about the history of the subway and the Empire State Building, existing - and non-existing lines, and a picture of a TBM - a tunnel-boring machine! A special "Behind the Scenes" reveals that Sergio, on his first visit to New York City, "filled notebook after notebook with sketches and rode the subway for days." Entering the 96th Street subway station, he began taking photos of all the details he would need to create this book. Realizing that he had attracted the attention of a cop in this post 9/11 world, he headed down the stairs quickly and resumed taking photos until he realized the cop had followed him! He jumped on the train that was just pulling in and escaped the "unwanted attention." To "celebrate his own adventure," Sergio decided to draw himself and the cop on (almost) every spread in Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure!
I hope that TOON Books might consider turning Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure into a series! While I don't (and have never) lived in a city with a subway, I have been on a few and they are AMAZING in so many ways! I would love to see Lost in Boston, Lost in London, Lost in Paris, and maybe even a Lost in LA . . .
Nadja & Sergio!
Source: Review Copy