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I Am the Subway Hardcover – Picture Book, August 3, 2021

4.9 out of 5 stars 33 ratings

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$11.75 $9.42

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Editorial Reviews


★“[S]ensitive, closely observed portraits of Seoul’s subway passengers…in this quiet treasure of a tale, every person in the crowd has a story, a family they love, and dreams they cherish.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

★“In this picture book, a subway train shares intimate stories while ferrying passengers around Seoul…A contemplative, poignant rendering of everyday journeys.”―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★“A bestselling Korean picture book is translated to bring this entrancing tale of “the unique lives of strangers you might never meet again” to a new audience. Told from the perspective of the Seoul subway, the story peels back layers on the people who board, reminding us that everyone we encounter has a story we don’t know. Bewitching.”―Foreword, starred review

★“In this beautiful and unusual book, first-person narration by a subway tells us all about the regulars who ride its cars in busy Seoul each day…Perfect for subway enthusiasts, kids who live in the city and think about their fellow train passengers, and for those who don’t but wonder what the experience would be like. If a class is studying Korea, this would be a fascinating unit activator.” Youth Services Book Review, starred review

“This is a love song, a poem to a means of transportation, an excuse to talk about a beloved city and a true invitation to get to meet the people of Seoul, getting to know their names, their joys, their hopes, and of course, the stations they come to and from.” ―Geek Dad

“[A] celebration of humanity, diversity and people of all walks of life.” ―Books Grow Minds

“Journey through the Seoul subway as it ba-dum, ba-dums across the city and dip into the many lives that rely on it each day. Striking the perfect balance of being a universal story while staying deeply rooted in it’s sense of place, any reader who uses public transportation regularly will see echoes of their experiences in the crowded train cars. The illustrations, soft and expressive, are an important layer to the reading experience, adding more details and colors as the individual stories of each passenger unfolds.” ―Stephanie Heinz, bookseller at Print Bookstore 

“Having lived in South Korea for a couple years I am so happy to read this beautiful celebration of the small moments that happen everyday all around us in the most mundane yet fantastic of places.” ―Ryan Kimmett, bookseller at Kismet Books 

“The subway leads the reader on a journey of the heart, experiencing each new arrival with their story and thus their humanity. Poetic and powerful, this book has led me on not only a journey through Seoul but the experience of moments in the day and a connection to each rider.” ―Jesica Sweedler-DeHart, librarian at Neill Public Library

"Dazzling … A gorgeous celebration of Seoul and its people." ―Waking Brain Cells

"One of the most beautiful books, and it’s narrated all by the actual subway! [A] lovely reminder that everyone we see in passing has a rich backstory." ―The Tiny Activists

"This poetic and quietly vivid day in the life of the Seoul subway is one of our absolute favorite books this year." ―Avery and Augustine, Books for Diversity

"Absolutely took my breath away … Expressive, tender, cinematic, and unique in so many ways - I've never really read a book like it before … Impossible not to walk away with a sense of wonder with each read." ―Inclusive Storytime

"A gorgeous picture book about the lives and thoughts of subway goers. It’s an imaginative picture book that’s beautifully illustrated … an excellent read aloud." ―Baby Librarians

"Beautifully highlights how all of us have our own unique story and how public transport brings with it a shared humanity that helps all of those stories intersect whether we realize it or not." ―Kid Lit is Magic

"Brilliant … With creamy, cinematic illustrations, this read offers a portrait of individual everyday journeys, reflecting our shared humanity even in the most crowded of metropolitan areas." ―Mai Story Book Library

★“Magnificent … Kim insightfully acknowledges "the unique lives of strangers you might never meet again" on spread after spectacular watercolor spread, the diverse passengers each caught in a single moment in time … Lucky readers, climb aboard: extraordinary explorations await.”
–Terry Hong, Shelf Awareness, starred review

I Am the Subway encourages us to think about the strangers around us and feel empathy toward them … Watercolor artwork captures both the bustling character of Seoul and the strange, liminal nature of a subway train making it unique and full of personality ― perfect for a book that personifies the subway itself.”

“[O]ne of the finest picture-book portraits of city life that I have ever read.”
―Imogen Carter, The Observer

About the Author

Kim Hyo-eun studied textile design at college and illustration at the Ibpil Future Illustration Research Institute. Books written and illustrated by Kim Hyo-eun include I Am the Subway. Picture books with illustrations created by Kim include A Baby on a Train, A Starry Flower Wall, The Place We Walk Becomes the Road, and Minji and a Squirrel.

Deborah Smith is an internationally renowned translator. She founded Tilted Axis Press to learn, share, and support a more nuanced and equitable awareness of our mutually entangled lives. In 2016 she was co-winner of the Man Booker International Prize for Literature, alongside author Han Kang, for her translation of The Vegetarian.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Scribble US (August 3, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 52 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1950354652
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1950354658
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 3 - 7 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ AD700L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ Preschool - 2
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.1 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 10 x 0.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.9 out of 5 stars 33 ratings

Customer reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5
33 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 19, 2022
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Top reviews from other countries

David Hardstaff
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm hearted picture book reminding readers that everyone has a story to tell.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on February 10, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on March 31, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on May 1, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful!
Reviewed in Germany 🇩🇪 on September 2, 2022