Our Subway Baby: The True Story of How One Baby Found His Home by Peter Mercurio,  illustrated by Leo Espinosa

    Our Subway Baby: The True Story of How One Baby Found His Home by Peter Mercurio, illustrated by Leo Espinosa, Dial Books, 9780525427544, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover picture book

Genre: Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book?  In this ripped from the headlines story, a young Manhattanite named Danny makes his way home from work. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees…a baby with light brown skin, only a few hours old. Danny springs into action, alerting the police and his partner, Peter. Hailed as a hero, Danny can’t get the baby out of his mind. Eventually the men succeed in adopting the baby, whom they name Kevin, aided by a supportive judge. Peter is scared at first; are they ready financially and emotionally to bring up the little boy? Buoyed by support from friends and family, they persevere and become a family. “Sometimes life hinges on little moments, happy accidents and miraculous surprises, “ Mercurio writes. “Sometimes babies are born into forever families. Sometimes they are adopted.” This is a truly joyous tale about diversity and love. The ease of the storytelling here emphasizes the normality of what is a truly unique way to start a family. All of the hardships or fears that Danny and Peter face are the same as those encountered by any couple with a newborn; theirs just came on a bit more quickly. Adult readers will have to acknowledge a somber truth; that it was an anomaly for a gay couple to be allowed to adopt in 2002.

The beautiful artwork by Leo Espinosa is a great match for the story. The digital illustrations are chic and sophisticated but also cheerful. Children will enjoy seeing the crowded streets and busy subway stations, and city dwellers may well identify with the couple’s realistically cramped apartment. An author’s note and some photographs at the end of the story show the real family and Kevin, now a college student, towering over his two dads.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  A great book for increasing the diversity of your selections on families. This book would make a nice read aloud or a mentor text if children were writing about their own births or families.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books or possibly in a parenting section.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes!

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: October 18, 2020

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