Rummanah Aasi

Description: New York City in the 1860s was a mess: crowded, disgusting, filled with garbage. You see, way back in 1860, there were no subways, just cobblestone streets. That is, until Alfred Ely Beach had the idea for a fan-powered train that would travel underground. On February 26, 1870, after fifty-eight days of drilling and painting and plastering, Beach unveiled his masterpiece—and throngs of visitors took turns swooshing down the track.

Review: The Secret Subway is an absorbing nonfiction picture book about the first creation of a subway in New York City. It is a story that I had never heard about. In the 1860s, Alfred Ely Beach found a solution to New York City's crowded streets and invented the first underground train which went back and forth in a 294 foot tunnel. He oversaw the building of a short tunnel, a single car, the machinery to make it move, and a luxurious underground waiting room, complete with a fountain.
  The creation of the subway was incredible and I loved the full page spread which shows spread shows the car traveling to the right of the page, then back to the left, its momentum causing the wide-eyed, elaborately dressed passengers to sway. Of course inevitable corruption derailed the project and the story was long forgotten until now. While the topic of trains may not thrill younger readers, the illustrations for this picture book by Chris Sickels are incredible. The images are made out of stylized clay figures and furnishings that are exquisite in details. The lightning and color choices makes the illustrations pop off the page as if the reader was watching a movie instead of reading a book.   

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 1 and up.

If you like this book try: Sky High by Monica Kulling, Subway story by Sarcone-Roach, Julia.

Description: This picture book biography tells the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who bicycled across Ghana--nearly 400 miles--with only one leg. With that achievement he forever changed how his country treats people with disabilities, and he shows us all that one person is enough to change the world.

Review: Emmanuel's Dream is an inspirational picture book biography of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, was born in rural Ghana in 1977 with only one functional leg and who grew up to become a national hero and disabilities activist. Readers learn of Emmanuel's challenges and achievements, both large and small. His mother had to carry him in order to attend school and once he became to heavy, he had to hop to and from school. In order to make friends, Emmanuel had to save money in order to buy a soccer ball and made a condition that others could play with the ball so long as he could play too while using crutches. He also learned how to ride a bike, which brought him national attention. As a young man, he embarked on an astounding 400-mile bicycle ride through Ghana, raising awareness and spreading his message that "being disabled does not mean being unable."
  The text is simple, well paced, and clearly written. Qualls's mixed-media art are quite nice and matches its upbeat tone. Soft blues and greens, bright oranges, and hot pinks are set against light-pastel painted backgrounds, effectively conveying mood and emotion. This story is sure to inspire many young readers and remind us that disabilities does not equate with restrictions.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades K-3.

If you like this book try: A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz and My Story, My Dance by Lesa Cline-Ransome
2 Responses
  1. Both of these books sound good for different reasons. The Ghana story is inspirational and will connect with many children who are differently abled. And I find the underground story fascinating.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to review Emmanuel’s Dream, Rummanah. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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