Tag Archives: Brian Floca

Princesses and the Rule of Three

1 May

One of my favorite memories of working in the William Walker library was reading Robert Munsch’s The Paperbag Princess to a first grade class, as part of a Robert Munsch author study.

downloadOne of the girls in that class, was obsessed with Disney princess books. When I read the end, where Princess Elizabeth tell Prince Ronald he is  a bum, the look on the girl’s face was priceless.

During our author study, we observed that Robert Munsch had each of his protagonists face their problem three times.


In her newest book, Princess Cora and the Crocodile, written by Laura Amy Schlitz and 61Y26+r7DzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_illustrated by Brian Floca, the protagonist has three people who stand in her way of having an enjoyable life: her nanny, he mother and her father.  Like Robert Munsch, there is a repetitive, familiar rhythm to each of these encounters that helps young readers predict and anticipate what is about to come.

Princess Cora’s problems are very much, first world problems, but many children with resonate with the lack of control in their own lives.

Publisher’s Summary: A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Medalist join forces to give an overscheduled princess a day off — and a deliciously wicked crocodile a day on.

Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She’s sick of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She’s sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won’t let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn’t expect that help to come in the form of a crocodile—a crocodile who does not behave properly. With perfectly paced dry comedy, children’s book luminaries Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca send Princess Cora on a delightful outdoor adventure — climbing trees! getting dirty! having fun! — while her alter ego wreaks utter havoc inside the castle, obliging one pair of royal helicopter parents to reconsider their ways.



In the swim of things

13 Jun


It is often stated that stories about mermaid sightings are often misunderstood encounters with manatees and dugongs.

Well, misunderstands often make for really good stories. Here are two really good new picture books about aquatic life, one from myth and legend, one from real life.


The mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell tells the story of minnow, one of Neptune’s many daughters. And the daughter who doesn’t quite fit in. She has no skills, talent or beauty, and she asks too many questions. One day a red object appears and Minnow sets of in search of answers to what it might be.


She has adventures and encounters, and finds the answer to her question. When she returns to share what she has discovered, she also learns that she does possess her own  skill, talent and beauty. K. G. Campbell tells a beautiful story in both his words and illustrations.

Equally as inspiring a story is  Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas written by Lynne Cox and illustrated by Brian Floca.


It relates the true story of the Elizabeth, a sea-lion who made her home in the Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand. She was a bit of a traffic nuisance, so the city moved her out to sea.


But she came back. They moved her further out. She came back again. Eventually, they decided they could live with her and erected signs cautioning drivers. This is a wonderful story of perseverance and acceptance.

If you like to read at the beach, these would be two great pictures books to read on your blanket.


19 Oct

Two new lovely books for train fans!


Brian Floca’s Locomotive is a look at a family’s 1869 journey from Omaha to Sacramento via the newly completed Transcontinental Railroad. This is a wonderful piece of historical fiction that gives readers tons of information from the sights and the sounds to the machinery and the people who work on the locomotive.


Watercolor, ink, gouache, and acrylic illustrations give readers a variety of views from up close details of the locomotive to vignettes of the different stopping points along the trip.  The endpapers give details about the trip and steam power. Notes at the end provide information about the sources Floca used. Clearly train enthusiasts will love this book, but so will kids interested in history, historical fiction and westward expansion.

More amusing is How to train a Train written by Jason Carter Eaton, and illustrated by John Rocco.


Essentially this is a how to book for kids who don;t want a puppy, kitten or goldfish. This is a guidebook on how to catch and train a train. Told in a very straightforward manner, you can’t help but love Mr. Eaton’s  dry sense of humor the way Mr. Rocco captures it.


The opening pages describe different types of trains and suggest  how to get one.  The book  then describes ways to make the new train feel comfortable and earn its trust. We also learn that there are others who lean towards other modes of transportation, like planes, trucks or submarines. You can all meet up on the open road and make new friends.

It gets me thinking of  other things kids might like to have as pets, and the stories they can write to teach others how to have an unusual pet.

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