It's not every day that a visit to a museum inspires an undertaking as enormous as writing, illustrating and publishing a picture book, but that's just what happened to Julia Sarcone-Roach at the New York Transit Museum
. It was there she learned about the subway car recycling program that sparked her Subway Story
(Knopf, $17; ages 5 to 9), a tale about a 1960s-era MTA car named Jessie who flourishes as the newest and brightest train in the fleet, is abandoned in a railyard after decades of service, then begins life anew on the bottom of the ocean as a manmade reef in which shellfish, coral and fish slowly take up residence. Author-illustrator Sarcone-Roach's colorful, evocative images draw out the magic in the already remarkable true story—check out this video
on the actual Red Fish Reef project—as though she'd dreamt the tale up herself. It's fitting that the artist is returning to the museum to share her book with her intended audience: adventurous kids with a passion for trains and serious love for the environment. Sat Dec 3 at 1:30pm. New York Transit Museum.