locomotiveWritten and Illustrated by Brian Floca

In his nonfiction picture book Locomotive, Brian Floca generously gives us what could easily have been four or five different books on locomotives all in one. Is it a vivid narrative of a boy riding a great steam engine train on an epic journey across the continent? Yes. Does it provide the history of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad? Yes. Is it filled with wonderful, detailed illustrations of the locomotive and the landscapes it passes through, accompanied by poetic descriptions of the noise and power of the great machine? Yes. Does it detail, David Maccaulay-style, how the steam engine functions and the jobs of the different people who make it work? Yes. This book is at times overwhelming, as it is literally filled to the gutters with details, drawings, and information. Floca has created the definitive children’s nonfiction work on the railroad, and it serves as a model for all the great things that a nonfiction picture book can do and be. Required purchase for all young railroad enthusiasts and budding engineers, plus it would serve as a great hook or enrichment resource for teaching this piece of American history. I highly recommended it even before I had the 2014 Caldecott and Sibert committees to back me up, and there is no excuse now for any librarian to sleep on this title.

Review by Joshua Whiting, GSD District Librarian
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 2-6 (Younger train lovers can and will eat it up in small amounts, but don’t expect them to stay with the entire book.)

Author Website: www.brianfloca.com

Written by and Illustrated by Brian Floca
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
64 pages
Release Date: September 3, 2013
ISBN: 9781416994152 (hardcover)

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