I just pulled Locomotive by Brian Floca off the “new” shelf at our local library. The minute I saw the endpapers, I knew I had to check it out!
But it’s not really “new.” Joanna Marple of Miss Marple’s Musings gave this book an outstanding review back in November of 2013. And yes, it’s a Caldecott Medal book, but I’d like to give it another plug, it is just soooo fabulous!“The hours and miles roll by. The country opens, opens wide, empty as an ocean. Smell the switchgrass and the bluestem, hot beneath the sun. Here the bison used to roam, by the hundreds, by the millions. Here the Cheyenne lived, and the Pawnee and Arapaho. Here covered wagons used to crawl, foot by foot, mile by mile, heading into the West. The railroad and the men who built it— they have changed it all.”
Readers learn much more than straight facts about the railroad. They get context and information that may send them in other directions. What is switchgrass and bluestem? What happened to the bison? Who are the Cheyenne, Pawnee and Arapaho? Inquiring minds want to know!
The language is lyrical, the information extensive and well-presented, and the illustrations sublime. And then there’s the back matter: Under “Sources,” the author writes, “One could fill a boxcar—maybe a freight train—with books written about the railroad in America.” I think the author read them all and culled the most juicy tidbits to fill the pages of this immensely fascinating book.
Although it’s also available as an eBook, I would highly recommend the hard copy. Readers will want to touch these lovely pages. Enjoy!
Author/illustrator: Brian Floca
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pub date: 2013