Gr 4-7-New England history buffs and those interested in the origins of mass transport will welcome this look at the beginnings of America's first subway. Recounting the problems of Boston's traffic congestion (wrought by the city's burgeoning population in the late 1800s), McKendry tells the story of how, in 1894, the Boston Transit Commission won its hard-fought battle to begin construction on the four-pronged public transportation system known today as the "T." The text is clear and well written, and is supplemented by copies of relevant newspaper articles about the triumphs and tribulations that the project faced, as well as by several boxed inserts that describe the more personal aspects of the project, e.g., the discovery and relocation of 900 dead bodies. Sepia tones in the realistic watercolor illustrations, as well as in the maps and precise technical drawings, help to maintain a serious tone. The paintings convey the sense of story, while the drawings provide specific details. Both are equally well executed and contribute to the overall understanding of the text. The endpapers, which feature copies of actual subway signs, give another view of history. This title should be a welcome addition to New England libraries as well as to those collections that frequently circulate titles such as David Macaulay's Underground (1976) and Building Big (2000, both Houghton).-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A stunning examination of the development of Boston's subway system-the first in the country-takes readers from 1895 to 1916 and explores the four distinct technological challenges met by the planners of the system as it spread from the city center to the suburbs, and under the harbor. Newspaper and magazine illustrator McKendry uses a variety of means to place readers in the time and to depict the progress of Boston's first big dig. Maps, details, cross sections and diagrams all combine to illustrate the different challenges met; endpapers decorated with period signs and, most spectacularly, sepia-wash paintings so realistic as to make readers look for photo credits ground the narrative visually. Rather more problematically, faux newspaper pages present complementary articles, flanked by other news of the day, to further contextualize the narrative. That these recreations look real enough to fool readers is no small testament to their craft; however, they are not facsimiles but fabrications for the most part, and without any backmatter whatsoever to parse source from artistic license, they betray readers who seek-and deserve-unambiguously non-fictional accounts. (Nonfiction. 10-14)