Gr 3-6-``Los Angeles is getting a subway.'' With that cheery announcement, the Hewetts take readers below ground for an enthusiastic tour of a modern engineering marvel, LA's Red Line, from the huge dig near Union Station and the temporary physical displacement of an entire park to the great tunnel carved out deep below downtown streets. Along the way, the authors pause to introduce some of the men and women, from crew boss to archaeologist, who work to bring the project to completion. The system's size and complexity are ably communicated, but the level of detail provided is not very high (no dates, no cost figures, little historical background). Also, the full-color photographs are not particularly revealing. There are no clear shots of the mammoth tunneling machine in action, or even of its cutting face; no full view of the intriguing Pink Lady, a flatbed truck modified to travel on either road or rail; no aerial views; no captions; and sometimes only a tangential relationship between photo and nearby text. This title makes a pleasant fanfare, but readers expecting the precision of books such as Charlotte Wilcox's Skyscraper Story (Carolrhoda, 1990) or Richard Ammon's Trains at Work (Atheneum, 1993) will be disappointed.-John Peters, New York Public Library
This book gracefully explores different aspects of the building of a segment of Los Angeles' subway. The how-to of constructing tunnels, tracks, and stations is covered in interesting detail and documented in photographs that record almost every step of the process, from site preparation to the final readying of the track. But the book goes beyond the construction to cover other aspects of the subway--the art on station walls as well as the concrete used to build them. Particular individuals in charge of sections are featured, revealing a workforce diverse in gender and ethnicity. Middle-graders will come away not only with an idea of how subways are constructed, but also with a notion of some very interesting jobs.