Caldecott Announcement! Book #164: Locomotive

locomotive -- coverCongratulations to Brian Floca for winning the 2014 Caldecott Medal for best illustrated American picture book. This book is quite marvelous, and it was on my list of books to talk about. Trouble is, it’s such a big book, a huge reference book for children, really, that I kept putting it aside as too big a thing to get into in a tiny blog post. I read it to my son about two weeks ago. He enjoyed it, but not being a huge train enthusiast, he wasn’t as excited as some children who love trains might be.  I also think this book is for the slightly older child than for my boy (Ray is six).

Choosing one book as the supposed best among thousands published each year is sort of a ridiculous venture. How we view art is entirely subjective, of course. And there are many incredible books published every year that largely go unnoticed by the public because they haven’t won accolades or are put out by lesser-known artists. Still, no one is going to dispute that Locomotive isn’t a wonderful contribution. Floca’s illustrations are a beautiful, detailed discussion of the first transcontinental railroad built in the United States, completed in 1869.  This year’s choice is a bit surprising — Caldecott committees tend to choose fiction over non-fiction — but the book is a real accomplishment for certain. I can’t imagine how long it must have taken Floca to finish this book.  It’s obviously meticulously researched and gloriously painted.

The runner ups for the Caldecott, by the way, were Journey, Mr. Wuffles, and Flora and the Flamingo.  I’d read all of them, and knew that Journey was certainly in the running to win.  I was surprised to see Mr. Wuffles win an honor, since Wiesner has won the medal three times already. Flora and the Flamingo is beautiful, too, and certainly worth a look. I think the biggest surprise was that Mr. Tiger Goes Wild went unmentioned this year.  Many people were sure this one was slotted for the win.  I love that book, truly.  But I loved so many this year.  What about Building Our House?  And so, and so…

Here’s a bit of text and art from Floca’s Locomotive. If you are into book collecting, you might still find a first edition around somewhere. Get it signed next time Brian Floca comes to town and you might have something valuable on your hands someday.  Oh, and congratulations to Kate DiCamillo, too, who won the Newbery Award for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children with her book, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.  

Locomotive -- steam engine


Locomotive -- side shotLocomotive -- front facingLocomotive -- night WHOO

Locomotive -- depot

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  1. In a very short time the 1st printing edition of Floca’s Locomotive was out of stock at Amazon and the prices of a signed+doodled copies are way high now to get a hand on. I wasn’t fast enough this time.

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