Monday, May 18, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - Locomotive

Floca, Brian. Locomotive. New York, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013.
            2014 Caldecott Medal / Sibert Honor Book

                        A lyrical description of a train trip by two children (boy and girl) and their mother across the Great Plains to San Francisco (to meet their father who is pictured, but not mentioned in the text) during the summer of 1869, soon after the Union Pacific joined with the Central Pacific which connected eastern trains to the Pacific ocean.
 Extensive notes at the end of the book explain the background of train travel at this time period.  Floca, who illustrated as well as wrote this book, takes advantage of his complete control by playing with the typeface to give even more emphasis to certain parts of the tale – especially the sound effects.

                        CLANK CLANK CLANK!
                        Men came from far away
                        to build from the East,
                        to build from the West,
                        to meet in the middle.

                  It’s not poetry, but it is rhythm. “…the passengers, have packed and shipped and sold their things, all their things, everything.” (I love this repetition, this interior rhyme pattern.) Unfortunately, there is no information about the people’s responses to this mode of travel, even though the illustrations feature this family. The text focuses on facts about the train and the illustrations show this trip across America. (I would love to know what created the land formation called the Devil’s Slide.) Even the endpapers will fascinate the train aficionado illustrating the route and showing how fire and steam propel the engine. A good example of illustrations being part of the story and extending it.

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