Locomotive by Brian Floca


Brian Floca
4 Stars

This is a fun look at what transcontinental railroad travel was like in 1869. I love seeing the illustrations of what the locomotives and train cars were like back then. And the way that the information is given through the text is fun (some words are added here or there with larger text to showcase the various loud noises that were heard in building or riding the railroad at that time). And since the story is about a group of travelers who go across the country (from Nebraska to California) readers not only get information about how the railroad was built but how the railroad worked.

I have a two-year-old nephew who loves trains. I didn’t actually read every word to him when we looked at this particular book, but he was thrilled to see trains and the different details in the illustrations. We would turn pages and he would point out the locomotives and the train cars and different things. We would sound out the loud “CLANG-CLANG”s or the “WHOO-OOOO”s together. The excellent details were just perfect for a little train lover to pour over again and again. The rich text was a bonus for the older readers and for myself so we could learn more about this mode of transportation in the mid-1800s. And one thing I especially loved was that I recognized the locomotives as being the Jupiter and the 119. Mostly because I had just been to Golden Spike National Historic Site at Promontory Summit this past year. In fact, here are some pictures of the replica locomotives from there (we went there just after we went to Spiral Jetty last fall).

golden spike 119

Here is what the 119 looked like.

golden spike 119 side

golden spike 119 front

And the Jupiter.

golden spike jupiter

golden spike jupiter side

golden spike jupiter front

What to do after reading this book:
Play with some toy trains.
Go on a train trip.
Visit a train museum or Golden Spike National Historic Site at Promontory Summit.
Watch a train movie.
Go around the house or neighborhood on a “train trip” (make all the train noises as you go).
Build a model train.

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4169-9415-2
FORMAT: Picture Book
AGES: Preschool, Elementary School

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