Locomotive by Brian Floca (Kellee’s Review)


NF PB 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!


Author and Illustrator: Brian Floca
Published September 3rd, 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: The Caldecott Medal Winner, Sibert Honor Book, and New York Timesbestseller Locomotive is a rich and detailed sensory exploration of America’s early railroads, from the creator of the “stunning” (Booklist)Moonshot.

It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’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!

My Review: Rhythm. Onomatopoeias. (Well-researched) History. Gorgeous (and historically accurate) illustrations. Lyrical narrative. Unique point of view. This book has everything.

YOU (second person POV!) are a passenger on a train cross America with your family in 1869. Throughout the book, you will encounter many different landmarks, experience things on a train very few had at this time in history, and learn about the intricacies of the train. So fascinating! And all told in rich, beautiful language. It is hard to even share much more about the book because it is such an experience.

Check out Ricki’s review of Locomotive as well HERE.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would LOVE to read this to kids. There are so many places to stop and discuss and research and learn, but never without an enthralling story accompanying.  It would be a great book to use across subjects. There are definitely opportunities for all subjects: social studies (trans-continental travel, history, trains); science (the science of steam engines); math (travel); reading/writing (onomatopoeia, point of view, rhythm).

Also, and this is fresh on my mind because I just read it, but I would love to read this and The Donner Dinner Party and then look at the two journeys. How long did each take? Dangers? It would be an interesting look at how trains truly changed transportation.

Discussion Questions: How does having the book in 2nd point of view make it more enthralling?; What onomatopoeias were used in the book? How did these words help suck you into the story?; How did the author’s rhythm make you feel like you are actually on the train?; What are the landmarks that were passed on the trans-continental railroad? Why are these landmarks significant?; How does a steam engine work? What are the jobs of all of the different people on board?

We Flagged:
“Here is how this road was built,
with a grunt and a heave and a swing,
with the ring of shovels on stone,
the ring of hammers on spikes:


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

They cleared the rocks
and dug the tunnels.
They raised the hammers
and brought them down—

“Three strokes to the spike,
ten spikes to the rail!”


Read This If You Loved: The Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale, Train by Elisha Cooper

Recommended For: 

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5 thoughts on “Locomotive by Brian Floca (Kellee’s Review)”

  1. Wasn’t this book so amazing??? I wrote a grant to use this book as an extended text for 4th grade but it was denied. Still a little bitter about that…. 😉 I hadn’t thought about the 2nd person POV, thanks for adding that! Have a great week!


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