Sometimes dreams come true.
I have been a Brian Floca fan for years, starting with Five Trucks, which introduces children to five very specialized trucks that are critical to getting airplanes in the air. Racecar Alphabet takes readers through the history of automobile racing in 26 chronological vignettes that brim with energy and humor: “O is for Oval, over and over.”
I was charmed by Lightship, about a ship that effectively serves as a floating lighthouse, and levitated when it was named a 2008 Sibert Honor for its distinguished contribution to informational literature for children. I was exhilarated by Moonshot, another Sibert Honor, which captured both the epic and human scales of the Apollo 11 moon landing. (I have three copies, as I can’t bear to give any away.) And I was transported by Floca’s illustrations for Ballet for Martha, by Sandra Jordan and Jan Greenberg, which describes the creation of Appalachian Spring.
I was prepared to love Locomotive when I received the appropriately oversized—it documents a great American endeavor, after all—advance. And I did: every last spread. Each page-turn reveals a new perspective, balancing the awesome and the particular with total mastery of pacing. His illustrations are so grand and dynamic that they threaten to throw his meticulous wordcraft into the background—but I sure noticed it.
So when friends and colleagues asked me what I wanted out of the awards ceremony, I said, “Locomotive,” hoping that I wasn’t jinxing the book. I was not particularly surprised, though I was of course happy, when the giant square cover flashed onto the screen as Association for Library Service to Children President Starr Latronica announced the Sibert Honors.
And I levitated again when that same square cover flashed onto the screen as the winner of the 2014 Caldecott Medal.
Congratulations, Brian Floca!
Vicky Smith is the children’s & teen editor at Kirkus Reviews.