Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure (2015) TOON Books
Nadja Spiegelman, writer
Sergio Garcia Sanchez, artist
Hardcover, 7.8”x10”, 52 page
Ages 8 and up
(also published in a Spanish edition)
Pablo’s first day at a new school is not off to a good start. Not only does he have to deal with the problems of a new school, new teachers, and new classmates, his mom has put Pablo’s teddy bear in his backpack to keep him company.
Fortunately Pablo’s classmates don’t hassle him too much about the bear. One of his new classmates, Alicia, offers to act as Pablo’s partner for the class trip to the Empire State Building. Pablo reluctantly accepts, feeling he really doesn’t need anyone’s help, but when he chooses the wrong subway train, he wonders if he’ll ever rejoin his class. Not only does he have to navigate his way through a new set of friends, Pablo also has to learn his way around the NYC subway system.
Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure is one of those books you’ve been waiting for that you probably didn’t realize you’ve been waiting for. Not only is it a good adventure story with amazing art and coloring, it’s also a great teaching tool that never gets pedantic. The creators give enough of the history and workings of the subway to be interesting and integral to the plot without overdoing it. (There’s more on the history of the subway and the Empire State Building in the back of the book as well as “Tips for Parents, Teachers, and Librarians: Toon Graphics for Visual Readers.”)
Plus the book is a visual feast, filled with color, vibrancy and even a couple of “Where’s Waldo?” type characters. (One NYC street scene also includes a nice nod to Nadja’s father Art Spiegelman’s Maus.)
I hope this book has a broad reach and will be read by kids (and adults) who’ve never been to New York City. Lost in NYC certainly runs the risk of alienating those who might think it’s not for them, yet its lessons and implications can be applied to any new place and situation: once you understand the basic structure and rules of any new environment, you become more comfortable in it. I look forward to the other places Spiegelman and Sanchez will take us next.
(Photos: School Library Journal)