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"After his paeans to the sea (Lightship) and space travel (Moonshot), Brian Floca here pays soaring tribute to the iron horse that rides the rails. The author-artist opens with a verbal and visual lyricism that evokes the awe of those who first traveled the Transcontinental Railroad: "Here is a road/ made for crossing the country, / a new road of rails/ made for people to ride." He connects past to present with the universal experience of a boy and girl who wait on the platform with their mother. As the train moves closer, the images and typeface grow in size and clarity ("CLANG-CLANG-CLANG"; "Whoo-oooo"). Floca labels the parts inside the cab, then leads into a close-up of the train rolling out of the station. He lays out the paradox introduced by train travel: a serene view of the Great Plains with nary a sign of civilization ("smell the switchgrass and the bluestem, hot beneath the sun"), as well as the sacrifices the railroad wrought ("Here the Cheyenne lived and the Pawnee and Arapaho.... The railroad and the men who built it--they have changed it all"). As the family travels along the tracks, Floca offers tantalizing details: toilets drain onto the tracks; a boy selling newspapers, food and soap is a "butch." At the end of the journey, the boy and girl's father waits with open arms. With maps and milestones in the front, and a cutaway diagram of the engine at the back, readers will want to board this locomotive again and again."-- * "Floca took readers to the moon with the Apollo 11 mission in Moonshot (2009); now he takes them across the country on an equally historic journey of 100 years earlier. In a collegial direct address, he invites readers to join a family--mother, daughter and son--on one of the first passenger trips from Omaha to Sacramento after the meeting of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific in May 1869. With encyclopedic enthusiasm, Floca visually documents the trip, vignettes illustrating the train's equipment as well as such must-know details as toilet and sleeping conditions. Full- and double-page spreads take advantage of the book's unusually large trim for breathtaking long shots of the American landscape and thrilling perspectives of the muscular engine itself. The nameless girl and boy provide touchstones for readers throughout, dubiously eyeing an unidentifiable dinner, juddering across a trestle, staring out with wide-eyed wonder. Unjustly undersung as a writer, Floca soars with his free-verse narrative, exploiting alliteration, assonance and internal rhyme to reinforce the rhythms of the journey. Frequent variations in font and type ("HUFF HUFF HUFF!" is spelled out in ornate, antique letters) further boost the excitement. Front endpapers provide detail on the building of the transcontinental railroad; back endpapers show the steam engine in cross section, explaining exactly how coal and water made it go. Nothing short of spectacular, just like the journey it describes."