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The Little Engine That Could Hardcover – September 27, 2005

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Editorial Reviews Review

The unknowing progenitor of a whole generation of self-help books, Wally Piper's The Little Engine That Could is one of the greatest tales of motivation and the power of positive thinking ever told. In this well-loved classic, a little train carrying oodles of toys to all of the good boys and girls is confronted with a towering, seemingly impassable mountain. As nicely as they ask, the toys cannot convince the Shiny New Engine or the Big Strong Engine--far too impressed with themselves--to say anything but "I can not. I can not." It is left up to the Little Blue Engine to overcome insurmountable odds and pull the train to the other side. The Little Engine That Could is an entertaining and inspirational favorite, and the Little Blue Engine's rallying mantra "I think I can--I think I can" will resonate for a lifetime in the head of every child who hears it. (Ages 4 to 8)) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2–This classic tale has been re-released with updated illustrations and a larger format. The text remains the same. The art, done with acrylics, is stylized and still retains a bit of an old-fashioned flavor. Nevertheless, the '30s look is definitely gone. In its place, readers will find artwork suggestive of a retro '50s look. As with the original, the clown takes center stage. His outfit, however, has changed from green polka dots to red pants, yellow shirt, and a colorful stocking cap. The text, with its, I think I can, I think I can refrain, is a timeless piece of children's literature and so familiar that it needs no elaboration. It's hard to improve upon a classic, and one advantage that the traditional edition has over this one is that the quaint and sentimental text pairs nicely with the antique artwork. The modern illustrations undoubtedly work better with a group but they have a faux feel to them. As such they are a little out of sync with the prim and proper style of writing in the story about the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain [who will be] without the wonderful toys to play with and the good food to eat…. Nevertheless, this is an acceptable purchase, especially for those libraries without a copy of the first edition or larger libraries wishing to collect all versions of classic tales.–Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Series: Little Engine That Could
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books (September 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399244670
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399244674
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.6 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Paul Schliesser on October 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is the first time that the 'Little Engine' has been published as a deluxe picture book. For this reason alone, it is unfair to compare it to the previous editions. The older editions are illustrated with small, simple, colored line drawings rather than lavish, full-page, full-color paintings.

Long's illustrations are beautiful and, in my opinion, suit the story better than the old ones did. As I child, I was never quite sure if the clown and dolls were toys or people. Long's illustration makes them obviously toys.

Long's illustrations give the different locomotives distinct looks and personalities. The original illustrations for both previous editions of the book have locomotives that are virtually identical, except for being different colors. The passenger engine in Long's illustration is a sleek, streamlined design with an arrogant, sneering expression, while the freight engine is a massive, dark iron, whale-like machine that looms over and peers down at the tiny clown.

It's unfortunate that the review from the School Library Journal was chosen by Amazon for the Editorial Reviews, above. I'd like to correct some errors - the writer has her facts wrong about the history of this book.

What Burg believes to be the original edition of the book is, in fact, the 1954 edition with illustrations by George and Doris Hauman. Although Burg praises the '1930s' look of these illustrations with the green poka-dotted clown, they scream '1950s!'. While most people today are familiar with this version, I think the older illustrations are showing their age, and I believe children today will relate better to Long's paintings. Also, as I have stated above, I believe Long's illustrations help tell the story better.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2000
Format: Board book Verified Purchase
This will teach me not to read the reviews carefully before purchase. This is a very abridged version of the classic story: the bright shiny engine and the big strong engine are nowhere to be found. If you're after the book you remember from your childhood, find another version. The illustrations are bright & fun, but there's just too much missing from the story.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Bill Franke on January 20, 2000
Format: Board book
This is one of the great children's stories of all time. I loved it as a child and read it over and over again, and my son has been demanding it as a bedtime story regularly since he was2-1/2 years old. The 1991 Platt & Munk (a division of Grosset & Dunlap) edition, beautifully illustrated by Cristina Ong, leaves out all the requests made to the busy trains. The story is now very brief (which is why I give it only 3 stars instead of the 5 the full-length version deserves)--I suppose because it is a board book--but the essentials are all there. It also changes the sex of the engines from male to female, so perhaps some parents would like to read this edition to their children as well as one of the others.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth G. Melillo VINE VOICE on August 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The current self-help genre tends to be dwelling on hurts and self-pity, then finding magical solutions. Our Little Engine just has healthy self-confidence and determination. And please don't stress even that when reading it to the kids who will love it, since they find their own more imaginative interpretations.
The unabridged version is a lifetime favourite of mine, and, for classroom use or that with older children, find a copy at all costs. This version does retain much of the essence, however, and is great for the pre-school set. The only "negative" I can think of is that the kids so love the repetition that parents may grow a bit tired of the daily requests for it to be re-read, especially if the particular child wants to hear only certain sections (I knew one who always wanted "the clown part," the other "the food part.")
The same enjoyable repetition makes this a favourite story to read to children in primary grades. Yes, be sure you don't stop the kids from all joining in "I think I can..."
This remains one book that every favourite kid of mine receives as a present. If it disappoints any of your children, that will be a first, in my experience!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on October 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book as a child and I still remember my mother reading it to me vividly to this day. She has since passed away, however, the underlying message of the book about having confidence in oneself stuck. I think this theme of "knowing you can do it" is a value message for children to learn.

I read through the story of the book and it had even more impact with the updated art. The images are original, powerful and really bring the story to life. I can see why they would appeal to children and the use of colors is amazing.

I've read a few reviewers comments that the book is sexist. I didn't notice that the "bad trains" were a certain gender and the "good trains" another when I read it. However, I'm wondering if this just may be a coincidence. I have a hard time believing the author of a classic like this with such a good underlying positive message would do something like this on purpose. Ditto... for the editors who are watching out for problems like this. While I could be wrong, I think Watty Piper deserves the benefit of the doubt and perhaps she will be open to making some editorial changes to correct an apparent sexist slant in future editions.

I also found the large format and prints in this book a value add. It is also printed on nice paper and lends itself to being used over and over. This format also makes it good for reading to small groups where the children will need to see the pictures from a distance.

The toys seemed to be almost alive to me. The artwork was succesful in giving them some kind of personality. They seem more than just stuffed animals and I think this quality will appeal and endear them to children.

The art is so captivating that it almost distracts me from the story.
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