Cover image for Down in the subway
Down in the subway
Cohen, Miriam.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : DK Pub., [1998]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 23 X 26 cm
While riding on a hot subway train in New York City, Oscar and his family meet the Island Lady and experience the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds of the Caribbean islands.
General Note:
"A DK Ink book."

"A Richard Jackson book."
Reading Level:
580 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.9 0.5 69668.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC. BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



The storyteller's voice sets the scene vividly: "It was hot in that subway train. Ohhh, yes!" Young Oscar is swinging round and round a pole--and peeking at the one cool rider in the car. She's the Island Lady, and with a smile at Oscar she's just pulled a blue Island breeze out of her shopping bag. Then the green Caribbean Sea itself, a picnic lunch of ackee rice, salt fish, callaloo, soursop soup, guava, pineapple, and coconut tarts. And, look, here's the Calypso Man. And, listen, there's a whole hot train full of people singing along and dancing to a sudden steel band. The pictures offer up a feast of color and movement. They seem to dance themselves, just as Oscar and his family do at the Island Lady's urging.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. Oscar's hot, crowded subway ride becomes transformed when the Island Lady opens her bag and begins pulling out some amazing things. First comes the "cool blue Island breeze," followed by the "green Caribbean Sea." Next comes food--guava, coconut tart, and other delights. The people on the train stare. Every child who has endured a long, hot trip on public transportation can imagine how Oscar feels as the Island Lady continues to pull surprises out of her bag. Cohen matches island cadence with the rhythm of the subway and makes her story of a disparate group of travelers brought joyfully together believable. Greenberg works in bright, tropical colors of gouache, gradually expanding the subway car to include all the merriment. Use this in story time when the midwinter blahs settle in. --Susan Dove Lempke

Publisher's Weekly Review

A routine summer ride on the subway is transformed into a brief, toe-tapping Caribbean holiday in Cohen's (Will I Have a Friend?) animated tale. But Greenberg's (Aunt Lilly's Laundromat) gouache art, with its electric hues and primitive style, supplies the bulk of the book's energy. The artist fluidly captures the ample magic that emanates from the multicolored straw bag of a friendly island woman dressed in native garb. The sweltering passengers' grim expressions melt into exuberant smiles as the Island Lady pulls out of her bag "the cool Island breeze," the green Caribbean Sea, a picnic lunch featuring island fare and the Calypso Man, singing a catchy if hokey rhyming tune. Her pièce de résistance: "an Island town," featuring palm trees, bright pink buildings and a street full of people "doing the jump-up." Cohen's intermittent attempts at island dialect often fall flat, but her inventive idea for transforming the tedium of subway riding‘creatively realized in Greenberg's sprightly pictures‘will lift the spirits of any child familiar with subway travel. Ages 4-7. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-An up-to-date token turnstile invites readers to join a little boy named Oscar and his mother on a New York City subway where they meet the Island Lady. With a smile, she reaches into her bag and pulls out a breeze that cools off the hot car. Then out flows the Caribbean Sea, foods that smell fine, and Calypso music that gets everyone up out of their seats singing and dancing. When Oscar and his mother get off and the train goes on its way, the child sings the song he heard to his little brother. Bright paintings depict a spirited, if somewhat fanciful, assortment of subway riders who happily join in the Caribbean-flavored fun.-Susan Pine, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.