by Sam Juliano
Brian Floca’s dazzling picture picture book Locomotive, which relates a family’s cross-country journey from a depot in Omaha, Nebraska to the new home that is waiting for them in San Francisco on the just completed transcontinental railroad, was awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in a bit of a surprise decision from the American Library Association at their winter meeting this morning. Though Locomotive appeared on virtually every ten best list of children’s books, it was thought it would probably win a silver Honor, largely because of the committee’s usual aversion to non-fiction winners for the big prize, and because the prolific Floca had been previously ignored several times for some great books he authored and illustrated. It was generally though that the race would be between Journey and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.
In the end, Journey did win a Caldecott Honor, but Mr. Tiger Goes Wild was nowhere to be found when the winners were announced in a major surprise.
In addition to Journey by Aaron Becker, the committee gave two other Honor book citations out to David Wiesner for Mr. Wuffles and to Molly Idle for Flora and the Flamingo.
In an ironic twist the non-fiction Robert F. Siebert award was given to Parrots over Puerto Rico, while Locomotive won one of the Honor citations.