2014 Caldecott Contenders: The Year of the Train

Monday, December 16, 2013

The year of the train - that's what this year is shaping up to be.  We have several beautiful train books that the Caldecott Committee may take note of. 
First on the list is Train by Elisha Cooper.  The people Cooper draws are faceless, emphasizing the anonymity of travel, and the landscape looms large. From the train tracks intersecting on the endpapers, to the long, low, double page spread depicting a train chugging across the Great Plains, this book is a work of art.   
How to Train a Train written by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by Jon Rocco is another notable train book out this year.  Written as an owner's manual for trains, this book is all about the train humor and Rocco's illustration go along with that perfectly.  The trains are expressive, resembling more detailed versions of the trains from Thomas the Tank Engine.  Rocco is a master at using light and dark and it really shows in this book. 
Locomotive by Brian Floca is a book no train lover should miss.  Like Cooper's Train, this book emphasizes the bigness of trains.  But where Cooper shows trains stretching out against the landscape, Floca's locomotive is up close and in your face. The illustrations remind you why so many young children love trains, how large, powerful, and awe inspiring they are. And it's been a while since the Caldecott has gone to non-fiction!
Steam Train, Dream Train
Steam Train, Dream Train written by Sherry Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld is the final book on our list.  A train carrying an animal crew stops in the night to be loaded. The illustrations are muted and moonlit with a great use of shading. Kids who loved Goonight, Goodnight Construction Site will be clamoring for this new collaboration from the same creators. 
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