Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review news and ALA

It was a big day here last week when word of two coming reviews for Locomotive arrived on the same afternoon, one right after the other. 

First, a starred review from Booklist: “Floca follows up the acclaimed Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (2009) with this ebullient, breathtaking look at a family’s 1869 journey from Omaha to Sacramento via the newly completed Transcontinental Railroad…. The substantial text is delivered in nonrhyming stanzas as enlightening as they are poetic…. Just as heart pounding are Floca’s bold, detailed watercolors.... It’s impossible to turn a page without learning something, but it’s these multiple wow moments that will knock readers from their chairs. Fantastic opening and closing notes make this the book for young train enthusiasts.” 

Second, a starred review from School Library Journal: “As in Moonshot (2009) and Lightship (2007, both S&S), Floca proves himself masterful with words, art, and ideas. The book’s large format offers space for a robust story in a hefty package of information…. Train buffs and history fans of many ages will find much to savor in this gorgeously rendered and intelligent effort.” 

Thanks to an early Kirkus review, these are the second and third starred reviews for Locomotive. Either of them alone would have made my day. Thank you to Booklist and SLJ!

Next up for Locomotive is ALA in Chicago this coming weekend, where I’m looking forward to sharing the book and some of the process behind it. I’ll be at the Simon & Schuster Original Art Lunch on Sunday, June 30, from 12:00 to 2:00 PM, and signing at the S&S booth (number 2312) from 3:00 to 4:00, also on Sunday. Chicago was a jumping off point from the East to the transcontinental railroad in 1869, and I’m hoping it will be in 2013, too. If you’re going to be at ALA, I hope youll come by and say hello!

EDIT: The date above has been corrected to Sunday, June 30 (not Saturday). 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Return to the ’20s

One weekend almost three years ago I struck out for Governor’s Island with some reading I needed to get through for Locomotive. I figured that if I had to be working on a weekend I might as well be doing it in an appealing setting. But then, while looking for a spot where I could knuckle down in comfort with the research, I came across a Jazz-Age Lawn Party in full swing, if you’ll forgive the expression. Instead of reading I did some drawing (which I posted on the blog, here.) 

The party was on again last weekend — and will be again in August, if you’re interested — and this year I went by on purpose. I’m hoping that one of these years they can combine this thing with a Civil War reenactment and get all the people who like to dress up in period outfits out there on the island together. In the meantime these ’20s-era weekends offer music, dancing, drinks, oysters, people looking better than they usually do, and old automobiles and trucks like this Citroën H van, which I enjoyed sketching.

There is, incidentally, a faded, former Citroën dealership around the corner from my studio in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, where Citroëns are seldom seen. In a neighborhood full of incongruities, the old dealership still stands out.