RED NOSE STUDIO
for The Secret Subway by Shana Corey
Published by Schwartz & Wade, available March 8th, 2016
Kirkus Reviews (January 1st, 2016)
"A long-forgotten chapter in New York City history is brilliantly illuminated. In mid-19th-century New York, horses and horse-drawn vehicles were the only means of transportation, and the din created by wheels as they rumbled on the cobblestones was deafening. The congestion at intersections threatened the lives of drivers and pedestrians alike. Many solutions were bandied about, but nothing was ever done. Enter Alfred Ely Beach, an admirer of "newfangled notions." Working in secret, he created an underground train powered by an enormous fan in a pneumatic tube. He built a tunnel lined with brick and concrete and a sumptuously decorated waiting room for passenger comfort. It brought a curious public rushing to use it and became a great though short-lived success, ending when the corrupt politician Boss Tweed used his influence to kill the whole project. Here is science, history, suspense, secrecy, and skulduggery in action. Corey's narrative is brisk, chatty, and highly descriptive, vividly presenting all the salient facts and making the events accessible and fascinating to modern readers. The incredibly inventive multimedia illustrations match the text perfectly and add detail, dimension, and pizazz. Located on the inside of the book jacket is a step-by-step guide to the creative process behind these remarkable illustrations. Absolutely wonderful in every way."
Publishers Weekly (January 4th, 2016)
"Corey’s absorbing story of New York City’s ill-fated first subway provides an ideal venue for the sculptural artistry of Chris Sickels, aka Red Nose Studio. Sickels (The Beginner’s Guide to Running Away from Home) crafts stylized clay figures and furnishings with infinite care, then photographs them under dramatic lighting—they could be stills from a movie. In the 1860s, Alfred Ely Beach conceived of an underground train that could be propelled pneumatically. 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. “Beach’s train was a sensation,” writes Corey (Here Come the Girl Scouts!). A witty 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. Shopkeepers and corrupt city leadership scotched the project, and it was forgotten, but Corey’s account sheds light on the way that commonplace institutions are often preceded by false starts, error, and scandal. Ages 4–8."