Locomotive – Perfect Picture Book Friday – Redux

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!

Title: Locomotive

Author/illustrator: Brian Floca

Ages: 4-11

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Pub date: 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9415-2


25 thoughts on “Locomotive – Perfect Picture Book Friday – Redux

  1. Margarita says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, Jilanne. My husband’s great-grandfather was a conductor on the railroad in Pennsylvania. This looks like a great addition to the grandchildren’s Christmas presents! xoxoM

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m starting to feel guilty about the lightweight fiction novel I’m presently reading (“This is Where I Leave You”). Feel like I should be devouring something more substantial. 😉

  3. Mrs. P says:

    You got my interest with the maps…I gravitate to maps and lead wherever they take me. 😀 I am a touchy-feely girl, too…must be able to turn pages. 😀

  4. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    This is a fun one. This makes me want to check it out again. I love the “new” shelf at one of our libraries, as I always find good books there.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Please do! Even if it’s just for a quick browse while you’re on your way to the adult fiction. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned while reading children’s nonfiction picture books. And they’re so much more interesting than the older, didactic ones written with so little style.

  5. Kate Johnston says:

    Looks like so much fun, and something my son would have loved when he was younger. I tried to find that other book in the library — Nurse, Soldier, Spy — and to my horror, they didn’t have it! So, I requested it. Hopefully, they will deem it worthy enough to purchase. If not, I’ll tell them to talk to you about it. 🙂

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Just give me five minutes with your librarian, and I’ll have them ordering all kinds of awesome books. 😀

      Seriously, “Nurse, Soldier, Spy” is a must for any school/public library. And her story needs to be written for the big screen. I know about a zillion people who would go see it. And probably just as many actresses who would love to star in the film. Talk about a meaty role!!

Leave a Reply to Jilanne Hoffmann Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.