by Brian Floca
Age: 4 yrs. (but interesting right up to age 8 or 9)
Interests: trains, history, American history, maps, travel
Also by this author/illustrator: Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, Lightship, The Racecar Alphabet
A detailed look at an 1869 trip across America on the brand new transcontinental railroad. From Omaha to Sacramento, this book lovingly explains the technology of the steam engine, the role of the brakemen, the fireman, and engineer, and describes the sights and sounds of the journey – with a helpful map for readers to follow along.
This is an ambitious work. It’s far longer than the usual 30-page picture book, and is so cram-packed with information that both endpapers are filled to bursting. The inventive changes in type highlight the drama and the noise of early locomotives, and make it entertaining for young train enthusiasts, while the scientific and engineering detail will enthrall older readers too. It attempts to cover all aspects of the topic and largely succeeds. The expansive illustrations are marvellous and some really make you feel like you are part of the scene.
Obviously a labour of love for the author (his enthusiasm spills over in the lengthy notes at the end), this book is a treasure trove for any child who loves trains. And it’s interesting for a wide range of ages – toddlers will enjoy the pictures, school-age kids will pore over the details.