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Floca, Brian 1969–

Floca, Brian 1969–

Personal

Born 1969, in Temple, TX; son of a bottling-plant owner and a homemaker. Education: Brown University, A.B. (history); coursework at Rhode Island School of Design; School of Visual Arts (New York, NY), M.F.A.

Addresses

Home and office—Jamaica Plain, NY. E-mail—studio@brianfloca.com.

Career

Illustrator and author.

Awards, Honors

Children's Book Council Children's Choice designation, Bank Street College of Education Children's Book of the Year designation, and Children's Literature Choice designation, all 1999, all for Five Trucks; Children's Literature Choice designation, American Library Association (ALA) Honor Book designation, New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing designation, and Parenting magazine Best Book of the Year designation, all 2003, all for The Racecar Alphabet; Robert F. Sibert Honor Book designation, ALA Honor Book designation, New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing designation, Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year designation, and Cybil Award for Best Nonfiction Picture Book, all 2007, all for Lightship.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

The Frightful Story of Harry Walfish, Orchard (New York, NY), 1997.

Five Trucks, DK Ink (New York, NY), 1999.

Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth: The Story of the Central Asiatic Expeditions, DK Ink (New York, NY), 2000.

The Racecar Alphabet, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2003.

Up in the Air: The Story of the Wright Brothers (serialized in newspapers), Breakfast Serials, 2003.

Lightship, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2009.

ILLUSTRATOR

Avi, City of Light, City of Dark (graphic novel), Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Robert Kraske, The Voyager's Stone: The Adventures of a Message-carrying Bottle Adrift on the Ocean Sea, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Helen Ketteman, Luck with Potatoes, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Avi, Poppy (also see below), Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Dick King-Smith, Jenius: The Amazing Guinea Pig, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1996.

Dick King-Smith, Mixed-up Max, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1997.

Judith Rose Enderle and Stephanie Gordon Tessler, Where Are You, Little Zack?, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Avi, Poppy and Rye (also see below), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Larry Dane Brimner, Lightning Liz, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Dick King-Smith, King Max, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1998.

Marilyn Singer, Solomon Sneezes, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Lee Bennett Hopkins, selector, Sports! Sports! Sports! A Poetry Collection, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Avi, Ragweed (also see below), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Avi, Ereth's Birthday, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Avi, Tales from Dimwood Forest (includes Ragweed, Poppy, and Poppy and Rye), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Avi, The Mayor of Central Park, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Johanna Hurwitz, Ethan at Home, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

Lisa Wheeler, Uncles and Antlers, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2004.

Deborah Hopkinson, Billy and the Rebel: Based on a True Civil War Story, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2005.

Phyllis Shalant, Bartleby of the Big Bad Bayou, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.

Avi, Poppy's Return, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Patricia Lakin, Max and Mo Make a Snowman, Aladdin Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2007.

Patricia Lakin, Max and Mo Go Apple Picking, Aladdin Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2007.

Patricia Lakin, Max and Mo's First Day of School, Aladdin Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2007.

Megan McDonald, The Hinky Pink, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2008.

Avi, Poppy and Ereth, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2009.

Also illustrator of other works, including "Beatrice Black Bear" (comic strip), text by John Grandits, published in Click magazine.

Sidelights

Texas-born artist and children's book author/illustrated Brian Floca got his start creating illustrations for noted author Avi's City of Light, City of Dark. A graphic novel detailing an alternative history of New York City, City of Light, City of Dark was praised as "first-rate science fiction in comic-book form" by a Publishers Weekly contributor. Avi's unusual manuscript had required a special type of illustrator, and then-art student Floca was the author's choice. This initial collaboration worked out so well that Avi has rejoined Floca on his book series about a tiny mouse that began with Poppy, as well as on other works. The illustrator has also expanded his work to include illustrating texts by such authors as Dick King-Smith, Deborah Hopkinson, and Judith Rose Enderle, as well as Patricia Lakin's "Max and Mo" beginning readers. Floca has created original self-illustrated works as well, among them several highly praised concept books and nonfiction works inspired by his interest in aviation and history. Up in the Air: The Story of the Wright Brothers, for example, is a novel based on the two Americans who were responsible for the first successful air flight; in 2003 it was published in serial form in over 120 newspapers in the United States.

Floca's work as an illustrator has earned him consistent respect due to his attention to detail, his sense of humor, and his ability to create books that are equally effective for one-on-one sharing and story-hour group gatherings. His work for Helen Ketteman's Luck with Potatoes features a resolute farmer whose switch from dairy farming to potato growing generates an unusual crop of spuds. "Even Floca's cows have personality and presence," noted Booklist contributor Janice Del Negro of the book, the critic adding that the artist's illustrations "add punch" to Ketteman's "very funny tale." Ann A. Flowers also praised Floca's work in a Horn Book review, writing that Luck with Potatoes is enhanced by "scratchy, energetic illustrations that set off the hardscrabble hill country to perfection."

Other books that have benefited from Floca's sense of whimsy include Where Are You, Little Zack?, a counting book by Enderle and Stephanie Gordon Tessler, and Lisa Wheeler's humorous Uncles and Antlers. Where Are You, Little Zack? features "busy, highly populated" pen-and-ink and watercolor art that a Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed "the most innovative feature" of the book. Another Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the "hilarious ink-and-watercolor" illustrations Floca contributes to Uncles and Antlers bring to life Wheeler's silly holiday story about seven uncles who take the place of Santa's reindeer and inject the story with "clever charm."

Floca's first original picture book, The Frightful Story of Harry Walfish, finds a grade-school student accidentally left behind overnight in a natural history museum after a trick played against his teacher during a school field trip backfires. Enjoying the humor in the story's text, Susan Dove Lempke gave particular praise to "Floca's boisterous story and exuberant pictures" in her Booklist review. Young truck lovers can be inspired by Five Trucks, which examines the activities at an airport in a simple manner that Horn Book reviewer Marilyn Bousquin dubbed "engaging and age appropriate." The reviewer added that Floca shows skill in building on his basic text by adding interesting details into the book's watercolor artwork, and his "ability to interweave so much story and atmosphere into a concept book is sure to raise our expectations" for his future work. Noting that the book is appropriate for its target readership,

Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan added that Five Trucks is "simple enough for a two-year-old … without being boring or simple-minded."

Moving from the airport to the racetrack, the award-winning The Racecar Alphabet sends pre-readers on a high-speed "journey through the alphabet, framed as a history of the race car," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. As the pages move from A to Z, the race cars depicted advance in technology through the years, from a 1901 Ford and the early Renaults to the Ferrari Formula I cars driven by modern drivers. Floca uses both unusual perspective and "loose ink drawings and streaky watercolors [to] create an astonishing sense of movement and speed," observed a Kirkus Reviews writer. While Floca's artwork "captures both the blur of action and the meticulous details so important to fans," in the opinion of the Publishers Weekly reviewer, his alliterative text provides "functional fare for phonetics fanatics and fun for everyone else," as Phelan quipped. "Not many alphabet books convey this kind of excitement," wrote Horn Book contributor Susan Dove Lempke, the critic dubbing The Racecar Alphabet "a special treat for young race fans."

Geared for elementary-grade students, Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth: The Story of the Central Asiatic Expeditions details discoveries relating to dinosaurs made during Roy Chapman Andrew's expeditions to Mongolia and the Gobi desert in the 1920s. Mixing well-researched facts with enough fiction to create an "engaging adventure," Lempke maintained in Booklist that the "sweeping, delicately detailed watercolor illustrations" in Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth "distinguish this from most dinosaur books." A Horn Book contributor agreed, noting that Floca's "attention to scientific detail is … excellent" and that the compelling text will inspire young readers to continue "reading and learning about the science and history of paleontology."

An important but much-overlooked seafaring vessel is the subject of Lightship, which pairs a spare text with what Lempke described as "skillfully detail[ed]" artwork. Floca focuses on the ship whose job it is to remain stationary in a storm-tossed sea and warn other ships of hazards. Using a cartoon format, the author/illustrator adds a wealth of factual information about these floating lighthouses via speech balloons, and in an informative endnote he explains that the United States stopped relying on lightships in the early 1980s. Floca's "watercolor-and-ink illustrations gracefully depict the beauty of the ocean on both calm and turbulent days," wrote Lempke, and a Kirkus Reviews writer noted that in his "tribute" to the lightship the author "creates both suspense and poetry." A "handsome book," Lightship "respects both its subject and its audience," concluded Phelan in Booklist.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 1995, Janice Del Negro, review of Luck with Potatoes, p. 326; April 1, 1997, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Frightful Story of Harry Walfish, p. 1333; June 1, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Five Trucks, p. 1825; February 15, 2000, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth: The Story of the Central Asiatic Expeditions, p. 1108; November 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Racecar Alphabet, p. 500; August, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of Poppy's Return, p. 2020; January 1, 2006, John Peters, review of From Slave to Soldier: Based on a True Civil War Story, p. 116; February 1, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of Lightship, p. 46.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1993, review of City of Light, City of Dark, p. 37; March, 2000, review of Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth, p. 242.

Horn Book, January-February, 1996, Ann A. Flowers, review of Luck with Potatoes, p. 64; January-February, 1997, Maeve Visser Knoth, review of Jenius: The Amazing Guinea Pig, p. 60; July-August, 1998, Ann A. Flowers, review of Poppy and Rye, p. 482; March, 1999, Marilyn Bousquin, review of Five Trucks, p. 188; March, 2000, review of Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth, p. 208; November-December, 2003, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Racecar Alphabet, p. 729; May-June, 2007, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Lightship, p. 300.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2003, review of The Racecar Alphabet, p. 1271; July 1, 2005, review of Poppy's Return, p. 730; September 1, 2005, review of From Slave to Soldier, p. 974; January 15, 2007, review of Lightship, p. 72.

Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1993, review of City of Light, City of Dark, p. 105; February 10, 1997, review of Where Are You, Little Zack?, p. 83; October 20, 1997, review of Counting Feathers, p. 75; January 5, 2004, review of The Racecar Alphabet, p. 60; September 27, 2004, review of Uncles and Antlers, p. 60; January 29, 2007, review of Lightship, p. 71.

School Library Journal, June, 2000, Patricia Manning, review of Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth, p. 164; November, 2003, Jeffrey A. French, review of The Racecar Alphabet, p. 92.

ONLINE

Brian Floca Home Page,http://www.brianfloca.com (May 30, 2008).

Brian Floca Web log,http://brianflocablog.blogspot.com (May 30, 2008).

Newspaper in Education Web site,http://www.nieworld.com/ (October 21, 2004), interview with Floca.

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"Floca, Brian 1969–." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 11 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Floca, Brian 1969–." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 11, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/floca-brian-1969

"Floca, Brian 1969–." Something About the Author. . Retrieved December 11, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/floca-brian-1969

Floca, Brian

FLOCA, Brian

Personal

Born in Temple, TX; son of a bottling-plant owner and a homemaker. Education: Brown University, A. B. (history); coursework at Rhode Island School of Design; New York School of Visual Arts, M.F.A.

Addresses

Home Brooklyn, NY. office c/o Author Mail, Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. E-mail studio@brianfloca.com.

Career

Illustrator and author.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

The Frightful Story of Harry Walfish, Orchard (New York, NY), 1997.

Five Trucks, DK Ink (New York, NY), 1999.

Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth: The Story of the Central Asiatic Expeditions, DK Ink (New York, NY), 2000.

The Racecar Alphabet, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2003.

Up in the Air: The Story of the Wright Brothers (originally serialized in newspapers), Breakfast Serials, 2003.

ILLUSTRATOR

Avi, City of Light, City of Dark (graphic novel), Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Robert Kraske, The Voyager's Stone: The Adventures of a Message-carrying Bottle Adrift on the Ocean Sea, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Helen Ketteman, Luck with Potatoes, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Avi, Poppy (also see below), Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Dick King-Smith, Jenius: The Amazing Guinea Pig, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1996.

Dick King-Smith, Mixed-up Max, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1997.

Judith Rose Enderle and Stephanie Gordon Tessler, Where Are You, Little Zack?, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Avi, Poppy and Rye (also see below), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Larry Dane Brimner, Lightning Liz, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Dick King-Smith, King Max, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1998.

Marilyn Singer, Solomon Sneezes, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Lee Bennett Hopkins, selector, Sports! Sports! Sports! A Poetry Collection, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Avi, Ragweed (also see below), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Avi, Ereth's Birthday, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Avi, Tales from Dimwood Forest (includes Ragweed, Poppy and Poppy and Rye ), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Avi, The Mayor of Central Park, HarperCollin (New York, NY), 2003.

Johanna Hurwitz, Ethan at Home, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

Lisa Wheeler, Uncles and Antlers, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2004.

Deborah Hopkinson, Billy and the Rebel, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2005.

Phyllis Shalant, Bartleby of the Big Bad Bayou, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.

Also illustrator of other books. Illustrations of "Beatrice Black Bear" comic strip by John Grandits, in Click magazine.

Work in Progress

Illustrations for From Slave to Soldier, by Deborah Hopkinson, Poppy's Return, by Avi, and The Hinky-Pink, by Megan McDonald.

Sidelights

Texas-born illustrator and children's book author Brian Floca got his start creating illustrations for noted author Avi's City of Light, City of Dark. The 1993 book, a graphic novel detailing an alternative history of New York City that a Publishers Weekly contributor praised as "first-rate science fiction in comic-book form," required a special type of illustrator, and then-art student Floca was Avi's choice. That initial collaboration worked out so well that Avi has continued to work with Floca on books such as Poppy and The Mayor of Central Park, while Floca has also contributed his artistic talents to illustrating texts by Dick King-Smith, Deborah Hopkinson, and Judith Rose Enderle, among other authors. He has also begun to write his own books as well, including several highly praised concept books and works of nonfiction that draw on Floca's interest in history. His Up in the Air: The Story of the Wright Brothers, for example, is a novel based on the two Americans responsible for the first successful air flight; it was originally published in serial form in over 120 newspapers around the United States.

Floca's work as an illustrator has earned him consistent respect due to his attention to detail, his sense of humor, and his ability to create a book that is equally effective for one-on-one sharing and library story-hour gatherings. His work for Helen Ketteman's Luck with Potatoes features a resolute farmer whose switch from dairy farming to potato growing generates an unusual crop of spuds. "Even Floca's cows have personality and presence," noted Booklist contributor Janice Del Negro, adding that the artist's illustrations "add punch" to Ketteman's "very funny tale." Ann A. Flowers also praised Floca's work in a Horn Book review, writing that Luck with Potatoes is enhanced by "scratchy, energetic illustrations that set off the hardscrabble hill country to perfection." Other books that have benefitted from Floca's sense of whimsey include Where Are You, Little Zack?, a counting book by Enderle and Sephanie Gordon Tessler that features "busy, highly populated" pen-and-ink and watercolor art that a Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed "the most innovative feature" of the book.

In 1997 Floca published his first original picture book, The Frightful Story of Harry Walfish, which finds a grade-school student accidentally left behind overnight in a natural history museum after a trick played against his teacher during a school field trip backfires. Enjoying the humor in the story's text, Susan Dove Lempke gave particular praise to "Floca's boisterous story and exuberant pictures" in her Booklist review. Young truck-lovers

can be inspired by Five Trucks, which examines the activities at an airport in a simple manner that Horn Book reviewer Marilyn Bousquin dubbed "engaging and age appropriate." The reviewer added that Floca shows skill in building on his basic text by adding interesting details into the book's watercolor artwork, and his "ability to interweave so much story and atmosphere into a concept book is sure to raise our expectations" for his future work. Also noting that the book is appropriate for its target readership, Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan added that Five Trucks is "simple enough for a two-year-old without being boring or simpleminded."

Moving from the airport to the racetrack, Floca's The Racecar Alphabet sends pre-readers on a high-speed "journey through the alphabet, framed as a history of the race car," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. As the pages move from A to Z, the race cars depicted advance in technology through the years, from a 1901 Ford and the early Renaults to the Ferrari Formula I cars driven by modern drivers. Floca uses both unusual perspective and "loose ink drawings and streaky water-colors [to] create an astonishing sense of movement and speed," observed a Kirkus Reviews writer. While Floca's artwork "captures both the blur of action and the meticulous details so important to fans," in the opinion of the Publishers Weekly reviewer, his alliterative text provides "functional fare for phonetics fanatics and fun for everyone else," as Phelan quipped in Booklist. Noting that "not many alphabet books convey this kind of excitement," Horn Book contributor Susan Dove Lempke called The Racecar Alphabet "a special treat for young race fans."

Floca proved his skills as an author were far from rudimentary with Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth: The Story of the Central Asiatic Expeditions. Published in 2000, this picture book for students in grades three through five details discoveries relating to dinosaurs made during Roy Chapman Andrew's expeditions to Mongolia and the Gobi desert in the 1920s. Mixing well-researched facts with enough fiction to create an "engaging adventure," Lempke maintained in Booklist that the "sweeping, delicately detailed watercolor illustrations" in Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth "distinguish this from most dinosaur books." A Horn Book contributor agreed, noting that Floca's "attention to scientific detail is excellent" and that the compelling text will inspire young readers to continue "reading and learning about the science and history of paleontology."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 1995, Janice Del Negro, review of Luck with Potatoes, p. 326; April 1, 1997, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Frightful Story of Harry Walfish, p. 1333; June 1, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Five Trucks, p. 1825; February 15, 2000, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth: The Story of the Central Asiatic Expeditions, p. 1108; November 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Racecar Alphabet, p. 500.

Horn Book, January-February, 1996, Ann A. Flowers, review of Luck with Potatoes, p. 64; January-February, 1997, Maeve Visser Knoth, review of Jenius: The Amazing Guinea Pig, p. 60; July-August, 1998, Ann A. Flowers, review of Poppy and Rye, p. 482; March, 1999, Marilyn Bousquin, review of Five Trucks, p. 188; March, 2000, review of Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth, p. 208; November-December, 2003, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Racecar Alphabet, p. 729.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2003, review of The Racecar Alphabet, p. 1271.

Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1993, review of City of Light, City of Dark, p. 105; February 10, 1997, review of Where Are You, Little Zack?, p. 83; October 20, 1997, review of Counting Feathers, p. 75; January 5, 2004, review of The Racecar Alphabet, p. 60.

School Library Journal, June, 2000, Patricia Manning, review of Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth, p. 164; November, 2003, Jeffrey A. French, review of The Racecar Alphabet, p. 92.

ONLINE

Brian Floca Web site, http://www.brianfloca.com/ (October 21, 2004).

Newspaper in Education Web site, http://www.nieworld.com/ (October 21, 2004), interview with Floca.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Floca, Brian." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 11 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Floca, Brian." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 11, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/floca-brian

"Floca, Brian." Something About the Author. . Retrieved December 11, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/floca-brian