Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Locomotive

Floca, Brian (Author/Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster 2013. 60 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781416994152 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 385
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

structures and features

Awards

Caldecott Medal – 2014
Robert F. Sibert Honor Book – 2014

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

The construction of the railway in the 19th century opened up North America from East to West, and the thrilling experience of riding the train across the United States at that time is described in full detail. This one journey, from Nebraska to California, further illustrates the challenges and dangers of both construction and travel: rugged terrain, rickety wooden bridges, overheated engines, possible derailments and more.

The story captures the journey of passengers but also of those who made the trains run.

Blank verse suggests the motion of the train: “In the rattling, rocking cars/click-clack click-clack click-clack there are neighbors to meet/games to play, songs to sing.”

Crayon illustrations, in hues of beige and brown, bring to life the landscapes of the Midwest. They accurately portray fashions as well as train construction of that era. Some of the fonts lend a feeling of the wild west, while the use of large bold letters for some words (“chug-chug,” “bang-bang”) helps readers experience the noises made by the trains. The book begins with a history of the construction of the railway and ends with an explanation of the huge impact of the locomotive and how its steam engine worked.

  •  

    As a class, use your voices, bodies, props and found objects to create a soundscape of an approaching locomotive based on the description on the first few pages.

  •  

    As you read, discuss the use of different fonts, text sizes and organization on each page. Talk about the significance of the illustrator’s design choices.

  •  Refer to a map to track the progress of the locomotive across the United States.
  •  With a partner or group, use a graphic organizer to summarize part of the journey of the train. Share your summary with the class.
  •  

    Write a story from the point of view of one of the characters, incorporating details from the text.

  •  

    As a class, use your voices, bodies, props and found objects to create a soundscape of an approaching locomotive based on the description on the first few pages. Listen to a teacher-selected train sound re-enactment, such as in “The Great Locomotive Chase” movie. How is the sound made?

  •  

    Discuss the fiction and non-fiction aspects of the book. Explore the front and back endpapers. As the book is read aloud, create a class mind map about train facts and information about workers. Discuss how the elements of fiction are presented.

  •  

    As the book is read aloud, discuss the use of different fonts, text sizes and layout on each page. Talk about how the illustrations and words connect with the text.

  •  

    Refer to a map to track the progress of the locomotive across the United States. Research the Canadian side of the railroad. Where would the train stop? In the style of the book, write short information pieces about the cities visited.

  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Music
  • Science and Technology