engine 3Title : The Little Engine That Could

Author: Watty Piper

Publisher : Philomel Books

Age : 4 years +


This book needs no introduction 🙂
A beloved book for decades… it celebrates hard work, encourages positive attitude and tells you to believe in yourself.

engine 1

This copy that I have is an abridged version. We love the re-telling of the old classic in this one.

I have not read the original version that was published by Grosset & Dunlap (will try to find it in the library) but I believe the biggest difference is that this new edition takes on a much larger format than the original ‘little book’ edition. Hence the illustrations play a big part here *wink*

engine 2

Look at the beautiful two-page spread. Good visuals, brilliant bright colours always appeal to children.
I like the illustrator’s approach. Loren Long paints with acrylics and uses classic oil-layering technique. Now, I’m pretty clueless when it comes to painting techniques… but I do know this must be a long and slow process. He is a serious artist for sure.

I can’t remember where I read this but he apparently works on one sketch a day only. And after spending about 2 to 3 months on the sketches of the book, he moves on to do the paintings which takes another 6 months. For each picture he paints, he employs his layering technique that requires him to build up the layers slowly until it becomes opaque. (Wow!)  So, he is only able to take on 1 or 2 picture books a year… usually taking a year and a half! I definitely have more appreciation for the artwork presented in this book.

engine 4

Illustrations aside, I love the ‘I think I can’ attitude. A message that kids catch on real fast.
It’s about taking on a challenge even though it may look daunting, and having faith/believing in yourself that you can do it.

Thanks to the little engine, you’ll hear Sprinter chanting his version ‘I can do it, I can do it’ every time I feed him bitter medicine. He takes in a deep breath, forces a smile and says ‘I can do it, I can do it mummy!’ and swallows the medicine with a grimace. Thank you son 🙂

engine 7

Thought I’d share the above with you… a poem I came across in Shel Silverstein’s “Where the sidewalk ends”. I was curious so I looked it up online and it turns out the blue engine here was indeed inspired by the Little Engine!… alas with a different outcome. Totally realistic – it made me giggle…. nope, I didn’t share this with my children. They can always read it later when they are older :p