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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Locomotive, Brian Floca

From the Publisher: All aboard! From the creator of the stunning (BooklistMoonshot, a rich and detailed sensory exploration of America's early railroads.

It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding Americae(tm)s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean.

Come hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!

Pros: There are so many things I like about this book, starting with the flyleaf pages and endpapers. These parts of the book usually don't have information on them, but in this case, they have tons of extra info, including text blocks, maps and illustrations. There is also good back matter in this book, but this is different because it's not all text-driven. It's really engaging, and it adds a lot to this book. Another think I really like is the use of different fonts and different font sizes to emphasize onomatopoeic words, like Clang-Clang, Hisssssss and Huff Huff Huff. I like that most of the pages have multiple vignette pictures on them instead of just one main picture on each page.  and then there are some full page drawings as well. I think that adds interest. I like how some of the pictures have "handwritten" labels on them. I love the muted colors of the watercolor paintings; it evokes the appropriate mood for this historical journey.

Cons: I didn't always love the flow of the text, although most other reviews I've seen actually commended the writing, and I saw some mentions of his particular style, so perhaps it's something I'm just unused to.

Overall, I found this to be a very, very strong picture book, perhaps the best I've seen all year.  I'll look forward to seeing if it's chosen as an award winner.  I can't imagine it won't get some accolades, it's got so much to offer.

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