The Little Engine that Could
by Watty Piper, illus. by George and Doris Hauman
“Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong. The little train rolled over the tracks. She was a happy little train for she had such a jolly load to carry. Her cars were filled full of good things for boys and girls.” What child can resist an opening like that? The sound effects alone will sweep youngsters along. And then, when all seems lost, and the engine can go no further, another little engine—this time a blue one—comes along. And (with a mantra that will serve children their whole lives) the little blue engine chants, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can,” until she makes it up over the mountain and gets all of the toys and books and puzzles and candies safely to their destination. I’m partial to the original illustrations by the Haumans, but there’s also a more recent edition (Philomel, 2005) illustrated by accomplished artist Loren Long that may appeal to a more modern sensibility (ISBN 9780399244674). You can’t go wrong with either one, and maybe you’ll want both.