The Caldecott (which is for the outstanding picture books) and Newbery (which is for chapter books geared for ages 9 through 14) Awards were just announced and here are the winners: The Caldecott Medal was awarded to Locomotive” by Brian Floca, while Journey” by Aaron Becker, Flora and the Flamingoby Molly Idle and “Mr. Wuffles” by David Wiesner are the Caldecott Honor books. The Newbery Medal was awarded to Flora and Ulysses” by Kate DiCamillo. The Newbery Honor books went to Doll Bones” by Holly Black, Paperboy” by Vince Vawter, One Came Home” by Amy Timberlake and The Year of Billy Miller” by Kevin Henkes.

The following picture books are wonderful books about transportation and are geared for all ages.

N LocomotiveLocomotive, by Brian Floca, is worthy of the coveted Caldecott Medal that was just announced. This over-sized book takes the reader back through time when the transcontinental railway was completed just after the Civil War ended. The opening end-pages immediately begin this amazing and vastly informative adventure. There’s a map of the railroad beginning in Nebraska and ending in Sacramento. There’s a newspaper advertisement, and more factual information, about the beginning of this route which changed the landscape of America forever. The book is written free verse with some words enlarged emphasizing the sounds of the train. Some of the information learned includes the passengers and the compartments inside the trains, the food prepared on the train and the trestles built over gorges and ravines. The back end-pages showcase the parts that make up a steam locomotive. The pictures emit an old fashioned feel and were painted with watercolor, ink, acrylic and gouache. By the end of the book, you’ll be looking for your next train ride.

Planes Fly!, by George Ella Lyon, and illustrated with a retro-feel by using digital techniques by Mick Wiggins, is a celebration of all types of planes. The opening end-pages have paper airplanes twirling and swirling in the air thrown by youngsters. The rhyming text is simple, but fun, as you learn about the many types of planes. Bi-planes / tri-planes / gotta-love-the-sky planes.” There are pages showing the cockpit, control tower and even hang gliders. The back end-pages have those same swirls and twirls but now the paper airplanes are real.

N DiggerDigger Dozer Dumper, by Hope Vestergaard, and painted with bold acrylic and charcoal by David Slonim, is a collection of poems that centers on the types of vehicles that work in neighborhoods and cities. Some of the poems included are Street Sweeper”, “Forklift” andBulldozer“. All of the vehicles are being driven by adorable youngsters and their canine pets. Chances are youngsters will learn much from this informative book.       

And the Cars Go, by William Bee, is a clever traffic jam that goes throughout the book. The police officer goes up to a station wagon packed to the top for the beach and asks, What’s causing this holdup?” As the officer moves forward, he finds a different type of car waiting in line to move. And what’s causing the stalemate? Well, you’ll just have to read this brightly and digitally rendered book to find out.

N BigBearBig Bear’s Big Boat, by Eve Bunting, and illustrated with pen and ink and digital media by Nancy Carpenter, is a story about staying true to oneself while still being respectful and polite to friends giving advice. Big Bear decided to build a larger boat as his boat had become too small. But when he builds a simple boat and exclaims, You are just what I dreamed you would be”, his friends think differently. Even though he doesn’t want to change the boat and add more pieces to it, his friends strongly advise it. The result is: he doesn’t like it and takes off all of the extras he didn’t want in the first place. This is an excellent lesson for us all.

Everything Goes By Sea, by Brian Biggs, is the third book in this transportation series. The other two books deal with traveling by air and by land and the format is the same in all three. This book is over-sized and each double open-page is packed with pictures describing parts of ships, or types of ships and boats. This is actually a story that begins with a boy in the car with his family as they are about to go across the water in a ferry. Once he’s out in the water on the ferry, more ships and boats appear. There’s even a double-page foldout toward the end of the book that you could quiz your youngster on regarding what types of boats appeared on previous pages. By the time the family lands at their destination you’ll have your sea legs.

N mouseMousetronaut Goes to Mars, by Astronaut Mark Kelly, and illustrated with mixed media by C. F. Payne, is a terrific introduction to space travel and the history of the planet Mars. Small Meteor is a mouse who stows away onboard a spaceship headed to Mars. But once in orbit, an engine fails and now the chance to land on the planet won’t happen because the humans on board are too heavy. But Meteor presents himself and is ready for the challenge. There are some great lessons here about persistence and not giving up on oneself. The back end-pages are filled with space exploration of Mars. So get ready for blast-off! 


Holly Newton

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