By Watty Piper and illustrated by Doris Haumann (Grosset and Dunlap)
‘I think I can, I think I can, I know I can!’ Were more encouraging words ever spoken to a child? This childhood classic is still just as powerful, 80 years on after children first read about the little steam engine that got stuck and couldn’t get over the mountain. When the toy train needs an engine to help it over the mountain to deliver toys and food to all the ‘good children’, none of the other big, important engines want to help. But then along comes the little blue engine and even though she is small, she believes in herself and she gets the job done.
Besides the toy clown – which my children have always been a bit afraid of (what is it with clowns – and why do people think children like them? But that’s another whole story.) my children loved this story when they were little and we still use the mantra in challenging times. The focus is on self esteem, positive thinking and perseverance. The powerful lesson is to never give up – no matter how small or unimportant you may feel. The abridged board book version cuts most of the ‘I think I can, I think I can’ pep talk out, so check which version you buy. Original, colourful illustrations by Doris Haumann add to the retro charm of the book.