This book is INCREDIBLE. Just don't try reading it to anyone under 10. Because... they will be impatient with it.
There is so much in this book. The pictures are glorious (that IS a Caldecott Medal on the front, 2014) and the detail packed into this book is incredible. This is a like a historical textbook in picture book form. If you are interested in America in the 1860's when railroads were spreading like wildfire, and railroads in general, you need this book.
Floca doesn't even waste the endpapers. So. Much. Information.
Have I mentioned how much I love the pictures?
All the different people that helped to build the railway.
Once the railway is complete, linking the east coast to the west, we see a family setting out to meet their father in California. We follow their journey on this brand new marvel. Across the country in less than a week...! Unheard of!
I love the illustrated fonts. And the antlers on the front of the engine.
The people who make the train work.
Heading across the prairies
What travel was like. I thoroughly enjoy the "convenience" details. The kids have been listening to Ramona the Pest lately--where she asks her kindergarten teacher how Mike Mulligan went to the bathroom that long busy day he was digging. These are important (and interesting) things to know, but are so rarely mentioned.
Turntable, switching out the engine.
Heading through the night.
The wealthy traveler's beds vs. the poorer travelers.
Rickety trestles crossing gorges.
Things that could happen to trains if they aren't expertly handled. But fortunately, the engineer on our train is brilliant, so we don't need to worry about these events.
Floca is really good at getting so many different perspectives.
Truckee, CA. The air is cooler again
Finally, finally they get where they need to be.
Endpapers being put to good use again.
This is an awesome book!