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.