Written & Illustrated by: Ethan & Vita Murrow
For Ages: 4-8 years
Language: English, however it’s mostly wordless.
Topics Covered: Gratitude, Wordless Books, Art, Strangers, Public Transit, Commuting, Own Voices.
This is a gorgeous wordless picture book about the Zero Local train, which often experiences delays. A young girl and her mother ride the train, and one day a quirky human with a bird on their shoulder sits next to them. The fellow commuter draws a thank you note for the driver, and tensions are soothed. The cool thing about this book, it’s based on a true story!
Anyone who regularly takes public transit, and loves to people-watch, will enjoy this book. As a person who commuted in Boston for years, I liked seeing the demographics of commuters on different trains, and the regulars who lined up with my own commute. This book quietly relies on the reader to observe the train car, as well as figure out for themselves why artwork brings people together. I love the way the realistic greyscale illustrations (with a bit of yellow) encompass the pages with a sense of familiarity. Being able to show gratitude to folks we encounter on a regular basis, especially public service workers like transit operators and janitorial staff, is so important. I really liked the quirky stranger, they weren’t feared by the girl in the yellow shirt. Instead, the girl is inspired by the artistic commuter and how they express gratitude to the train conductor despite the service delays. As public services are beginning to open up more, keeping this gratitude for the folks who keep public services running no matter what else is happening should be at the top of our minds. While in Boston the MBTA services were reduced at the beginning of the pandemic (which is STILL happening), they never ceased. Commuting delays are frustrating, but this book shows that instead of tempers flaring, we can take a moment, channel our artistic skills, and make someone’s day a little better.
This book was kindly sent by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are my own.
The pair have worked collaboratively since the day they met, on all kinds of art including writing, video, film, drawing and photography. Recent work featured here includes the new picture book “Zero Local” out spring 2020 with Candlewick Press “The Whale” with Templar/Big Picture Press in the UK and Candlewick. Ethan shows his drawing work in exhibitions both domestic and international, and Vita has solo projects as an author with publishing houses around the world including new books with Quarto. They are based in Boston where they live with their two kids. Watch them discuss our process and influences in this Candlewick Press Interview or check out Picture Book Makers great feature on the pair.