The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, re-illustrated by Loren Long

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One book I love for rocking-chair reading is The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, re-illustrated by Loren Long. My kids also love this one for rocking-chair reading. In fact, when we took the rocking chair out of my oldest son’s room to put into his baby sister’s room, he said, with serious concern, “But how will we read The Little Engine that Could now, without rocking?”

It was a good thing we could still read it in her room! Even when my kids were little, reading this story is lots of fun for me and for them. I really play up the story, stopping rocking when the book says “…stopped with a jerk,” rocking slowly when the other trains arrive, and rocking at increasing speeds as we get to the “I think I can” pages. I also use silly voices for the different engines because I’m goofy like that.

Who doesn’t know the story of The Little Engine that Could? When the train that the dolls and toys are on is unable to go on, the dolls and toys, and especially the silly toy clown ask all the passing trains for help in getting over the mountain. The big strong engine won’t help. The fast, shiny engine won’t help. The old, rusty engine won’t help. Only the tiny, insignificant engine is willing to try, and it takes all of her determination to make it. As a motivational book, The Little Engine that Could has entered our cultural conscience as a reminder that determination can help all of us, as long as we think we can.

I love Loren Long’s updated illustrations: I never was a fan of the original book’s illustrations, but Loren Long’s illustrations are bright and friendly, and the book is extra large, perfect for reading with multiple children, for reading aloud, or for simply examining the fine details in the illustrations. Long’s version of the book has slight text adjustments compared to the original as well.

My little boy doesn’t rock with me anymore, since he’s a teenager. My two girls still like stories, but even my youngest is getting to the age where she’s almost done with the rocking chair. It’s too bad because this is such a perfect book for the rocking chair. I’m glad we rocked along with it as long as we have. I’ll always treasure this book, no matter what.

*Some of these thoughts were originally written in September 2012.

original, illustrated by George and Doris Haumann
90th Anniversary Edition, illustrated by Dan Santat
Reviewed on October 13, 2022

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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