Floca, Brian. 2013. LOCOMOTIVE. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 9781416994152. [Suggested Grade Levels 1-6]
Brian Floca’s beautifully illustrated Caldecott Medal winning book is perfect for those boys who love “train books” but its well-constructed mix of blank verse and the story of the transcontinental railroad make it a valuable addition to both classrooms and library. While the book begins with a brief history of the building of the transcontinental railroad, it is really a celebration of those who built, who travelled, who drove those mighty locomotives across the country. Floca masterfully blends facts and schematics of the locomotives, sweeping scenic panoramas, stories of the people, vignettes of what might have been seen along the way, and wonderful words to make this book a visual and verbal delight, chock full of information and smoothly flowing narrative. His watercolor illustrations are understated but bold. The result is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels by both children and adults. Extensive introductory and back matter gives additional historical information.
For younger students, use this book as part of a transportation unit. Have students pretend that they are riding on the train and talk about what they would have seen if they had written the train back when it was built as compared with what they would see today. For older students, use it as an introductory lesson in American history about the Western expansion and building of the transcontinental railroad.
Coiley, John. TRAINS. ISBN 9780756650322
Simon, Seymour. BOOK OF TRAINS. ISBN 9780060284756
Thompson, Linda. BUILDING THE TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD. ISBN 9781621697343