Floca, Brian. Locomotive. Ill. by Brian Floca. New York: Atheneum, 2013. ISBN 1416994157
2. PLOT SUMMARY
The narrator of this book takes the reader, sometimes referred to as a passenger, on a journey through the building of the transcontinental railroad in the US. From building the rails through the harshness of the travels across the country from Nebraska to California in about a week, the reader gets an in-depth look at how the first steam engines ran and the crew that helped to keep them moving.
3. CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Interested readers get a very detailed description of each facet of running a steam train – and what can go wrong if the workers are not super careful with each step of the process. It would be very easy for a young reader to become overwhelmed in the amount of description for each step of the journey and process. Mr. Floca helps to break some of this up by using fun text and small sections of rhyming and repetition to draw the reader back to the story.
Beautiful detailed color illustrations in small vignettes and sweeping two page views help to keep little readers drawn into the imagery of the text and bold fonts draw the reader to fun sounds and ideas.
4. REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
2014 CALDECOTT MEDAL
ROBERT F. SIBERT INFORMATIONAL BOOK HONOR
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – “The author smoothly integrates descriptions of the structure and mechanics of the locomotive, tasks of crew members, passing landscapes, and experiences of passengers. Simply sketched people and backgrounds, striking views of the locomotive, and broad scenes of unpopulated terrain are framed in small vignettes or sweep across the page.”
From BOOKLIST – “”Font styles swap restlessly to best embody each noise (see the blunt, bold “SPIT” versus the ornate, ballooning “HUFF HUFF HUFF”). Just as heart pounding are Floca’s bold, detailed watercolors, which swap massive close-ups of barreling locomotives with sweeping bird’s-eye views that show how even these metal giants were dwarfed by nature. It’s impossible to turn a page without learning something, but it’s these multiple wow moments that will knock readers from their chairs.”
Gather other Caldecott Medal books to read such as:
• Stead, Philip C. A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE. ISBN 1596434023
• Pizzoli, Greg. THE WATERMELON SEED. ISBN 1423171012
Gather other Brian Floca books to read such as:
• MOONSHOT:THE FLIGHT OF APOLLO 11. ISBN 141695046X
• LIGHTSHIP. ISBN 1416924361
Use as an introduction to a science unit on movement and steam power.
Use with a history unit on the movement of people across the country.
Read HOW TO TRAIN A TRAIN by Jason Carter Eaton and TRAIN by Elisha Cooper and brainstorm types of trains and their cargo and passengers.
• Eaton, Jason Carter. HOW TO TRAIN A TRAIN. ISBN 0763663077
• Cooper, Elisha. TRAIN. ISBN 0545384958