'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 17 August 2020

Review: The Little Engine That Could 90th Anniversary

With an enthusiastic and warm introduction, singer Dolly Parton recalls how this story, told to her by her mother, influenced, encouraged and gave her strength and hope.  She chose it for her gifting program in her home town.

Still inspiring generations, it is a powerful influencer. I think I can, I think I can, is still used as a mantra by many adults when life challenges appear too great to overcome.

Retold by Wally Piper and reimagined by Caldecott 

Medal winner, Dan Santat, this 90th Anniversary edition reflects a glorious renewal.

A little train loaded with toys for the children sets out for her destination at the other side of the mountain. There are all types of toys within the carriages – animals, dolls with golden hair and teddy bears, clowns, aeroplanes, picture books and puzzles. Others are packed with delicious offerings of food; fruits and vegetables, sweets and treats.

While contentedly chuffing along, she suddenly stops, unable to turn her wheels no matter how she tries. What is she to do?

After help is denied three times by passing trains, the toys are ready to cry. A little blue engine comes into sight. Small but chugging along happily, it stops quickly at the sight of the waving flag in the clown’s hand. The toys once again explain their situation and beg the little blue engine to pull them over the mountain. 

She is small and has never been over the mountain as her role only involved switching trains in the yard. But she hitches herself to the toy train. 

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, she chants and pulls and tugs, refusing to give up. Failure is not an option. Off they go, the toys peering excitedly at the road from the windows, as they move ever upward.

The little blue engine doesn’t stop  repeating her words until they reach the crest of the hill and see the town below. They have made it!

Full of optimism and self-belief, it promotes a never-give-up mindset while its stunning illustrations illuminate positivity. This edition will be cherished by adults and children. Worth its weight in gold, I know it won’t leave my possession.
Title: The Little Engine That Could 90th Anniversary
Author: Retold by Watty Piper
Illustrator: Reimagined by Dan Santat
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $32.99
Publication Date: 15 April 2020
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780593094396
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture Book