When Jackie Saved Grand Central by Natasha Wing

When Jackie Saved Grand Central: The True Story of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Fight for an American Icon

Natasha Wing, Author

Alexandra Boiger, Illustrator

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Narrative Nonfiction, Mar. 7, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 6-9

Themes: Jacqueline Kennedy, Grand Central Station, Conservation and Restoration, New York City

Opening: “When Jackie became First Lady of the United States in 1961, she moved into the White House and restored the dreary mansion into a stately home that made Americans proud… Fourteen years later, another famous landmark, this time in New York City, needed Jackie Kennedy’s help…”

Book Jacket Synopsis: First Lady. American legend. New Yorker.

Jacqueline Kennedy loved everything about her home city, from the beauty of the parks to the grandeur of the buildings. Grand Central Terminal was one of the grandest buildings of all — but in 1968, it was in danger of destruction. Jackie couldn’t imagine changing New York’s famous train station! So the former First Lady of the United States and other passionate Americans came together to save the iconic landmark, embarking on a journey that went all the way to the Supreme Court. And as they fought to preserve the past, those who love Grand Central made history.

Why I like this book:

Natasha Wing has skillfully written an inspiring story about how former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy led the effort to save and restore Grand Central. It’s owners wanted to build a skyscraper right on top of this historic site, which opened in 1913.  For Jackie and many others who loved this landmark, “destroying Grand Central would be architectural mutilation.”

Convincingly written and impeccably researched, Wing’s picture book shares a lot of detail about this little-known story for many Americans. In a last-ditch effort to gather support, Jackie and 300 supporters joined aboard the Landmark Express, and traveled from New York to Washington, D.C., to garner public support and attention for their cause before the Supreme Court. Jackie’s comment to the press upon arrival, “If Grand Central Station goes, all the landmarks in this country will go as well.”

This book is a classroom gem that shows children how important it is to get involved in a cause they believe and connect their voices with others in order to create change in their communities and world. They too can make a difference.

Alexandra Boiger’s beautiful illustrations are expressive, inspirational and highlight this important story. Make sure you read her Illustrator’s Note at the end. Boiger shares how she uses different colors and symbols to highlight the emotional story line. For example, during the fight, Jackie wears a bright red coat which depicts her anger.

The restoration work took 20 years and Jacqueline Kennedy died four years before it was dedicated in 1998.

Resources/Activities:  Encourage children to identify historic buildings in their local communities. Visit them. Have buildings been restored and taken care of? If you live in New York City visit Grand Central Station. Both Wing and Boiger urge visitors to walk into the Main Concourse and look up — where the stars shine from the cerulean ceiling. There is also a lengthy Author’s Note at the end that gives a lot more background about Jackie and the restoration work.

Natasha Wing is the author of many picture books, including an acclaimed biography of artist Josef Albers and the best-selling Night Before series. Visit Wing at her website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

*I was provided with a copy of this book in turn for a fair and honest review.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

53 thoughts on “When Jackie Saved Grand Central by Natasha Wing

  1. A wonderful review of a book I’m looking forward to read. I remember the old Grand Central & am so thankful for those who persisted to revitalize this old gem.


  2. I loved Grand Central Station when I visited in 1987. It is so important to keep these wonderful old buildings. It is also good for children to know that they too can make a difference. By reading a book like this, the next generation will be more aware of preserving landmarks.


  3. I wasn’t aware of this moment in history. And thank goodness saving Grand Central Station was accomplished! It’s a tremendously beautiful piece of history and architecture. Thank you for a great review of a picture book I’m looking forward to reading.


  4. It would be fun to read the book then take your children or students on a field trip to a historic building that was saved in your community. In Denver, the Union train station was recently renovated. I haven’t seen the one in Washington, D.C. in person but in the photos it’s gorgeous.


  5. This looks so intriguing; I can’t imagine if Grand Central Station had met a different fate. Kudos to the author and illustrator duo for bringing this story to life and thank you, Pat, for featuring it.


    • It is an important story for children to know about the work Jackie led to save Grand Central Station. So many of the people who left comments didn’t know the story. I didn’t.


    • I love women in history, too. Mostly the little-known stories. The ones that make readers go, “I didn’t know that!” So I was thrilled to come across this story and happy that now the world is more aware of another wonderful thing Jackie did for our country.


  6. I love picture books that are impeccably researched. I lived in NYC for years and had no idea Jackie Kennedy was so instrumental in saving Grand Central Station. Thank you for this great review.


    • Thank you Joanne. I’m glad you enjoyed the Natasha’s book. It is impeccably researched. I had no idea about the role Jackie Kennedy played in this massive restoration project.


  7. Pingback: The Night Before the Fourth of July by Natasha Wing | Children's Books Heal

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