Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Module 2: Little Engine That Could

Citation: Piper, W. (1976). The little engine that could. New York, NY: Platt & Munk.

Summary: The old tale of the little blue train that is helpful by trying it’s best to take toys and gifts to little boys and girls.  The story begins when a train that is carrying toys and gifts breaks down, it decides to ask other trains for help.  The problem is that those other trains, a mean one, an old one, and a tough one, all deny the request for help because they are discouraged by the big mountain.  The little blue train is not discouraged, as it takes on the challenge of towing the broken train and is self motivated by repeating “I think I can, I think I can”.  Through its unwavering attitude to climb the mountain and greet children with toys and gifts, the blue train is successful.

Impression: Peace and a Must Read!

Who doesn’t love a good success and motivating story? Of course my mind was at peace when the train with goodies finally reaches the little boys and girls.  I think this is a must read for everyone at least once in their life. You will forever remember the encouraging comments of “I think I can, I think I can”! Anytime someone needs a little push in the right direction I would encourage them to read this book.  This is an old, classic tale and seeing good qualities such as ambition and perseverance within this book reminds readers of what it takes to be successful in difficult or challenging times.

Reviews: PreS-Gr 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 it’s, "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.

Burg, R. (2005). The little engine that could. School Library Journal, 51(9), 184.

PreS-Gr. 1. The new edition of this American classic pairs the original (1930) text with artwork by Loren Long, whose previous picture books include Madonna's Mr. Peabody's Apples (2003) and Walt Whitman's When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer (2004). Grand in scale but cozy in effect, the impressive acrylic paintings use subtle strokes of rich colors to create a series of narrative scenes large enough to be clearly visible back to the last row of storytime or classroom. The characters remain convincing as dolls, toys, and trains despite the slight changes in expression, position, and emotion that bring them to life. The most memorable elements of the artwork, though, are the fluid lines, rounded shapes, and warm colors of the lyrical landscapes, which are reminiscent of paintings by Thomas Hart Benton. Chances are the unassuming Little Blue Engine never expected such a handsome showcase, even for her finest hour, but this edition provides a brilliant new setting that many readers will prefer to the original picture book.

Phelan, C. (2005). The little engine that could. Booklist, 102(1), 145. 

Use in Library: -This book could be used to motivate and inform students about good character traits.  The traits that can be covered are perseverance, bravery, dedication, optimism, hard work, pride, kindness, and more.  Life lessons are learned through everyday experiences, but by providing background knowledge through reading a positive tale like The Little Engine That Could can arm young minds with good qualities to exemplify while struggling through life’s obstacles.

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