Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books


Fall 2013 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Brian Floca
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-141-699415-7
Hardcover Price: $17.99

Set in the summer of 1869, when the transcontinental railroad is still new, a mother along with her son and daughter, boards the Union Pacific Train in Omaha, Nebraska. They are traveling to meet their father in Sacramento, California. On this nameless family, the author/illustrator loosely hangs a wonderful, pictorial history of the transcontinental railroad, the men who built it, the men who ran it, and the dramatic, powerful locomotive engines that pulled the trains.

With a large format that allows the dramatic essence of the large engines to be depicted, one trip from east to the west of the United States unrolls as the engines chug west. The illustrated pages are chock-a-block full of information about how these engines work, the countryside through which they travel, and the history of the railroad. Sometimes, the fine-line ink and watercolor pictures spill across double-page spreads, such as the one capturing the size of the gigantic wheels or the immensity of the Great Plains; sometimes, small vignettes show the various crew members or the sleeping train passengers. The soft golden palette with predominate browns and grays enhances the sense of a glorious past.

Kemie Nix   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

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Simon & Schuster

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