I decided to review The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper because it was one of 21 books that Ted Nicholas read that changed his life. Ted Nicholas, a very successful entrepreneur and copywriter, has always stressed the importance of continuous learning. I like to read some of the books that accomplished people read to better understand them.
The Little Engine That Could is a children’s book, but its timeless lesson teaches us what we can accomplish when we believe in our ability. It brought home the belief “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Because it’s a children’s book, it’s a very easy read and takes about 10 minutes to read.
The book is about a happy train that is loaded with toys of all kinds for children as well as some food stuff. On the way it breaks down, and it becomes very concerned about all the children who will not be able to play with the toys and eat all the goodies. Soon a train comes by and some of the toys cry out for help, but this “shiny new engine” is very self important, and a snob and remarks, “I pull you? I am a Passenger Train. I have just carried a fine big train over the mountain, with more cars than you ever dreamed of….”
Another train came along and once again, the toys shouted for help, but the train shouted back that it was a freight engine. “I have just pulled a big train loaded with big machines over the mountain. These machines print books and newspapers for grown-ups to read….” Once again the toys felt let down. Another train chugged along, this time “an old and tired” looking one. The toys cried out for help, “But the Rusty Old Engine sighed: “I am so tired. I must rest my weary wheels.”"
The toys were very saddened and cried. Next a little blue train came along and once again the toys begged for help and explained their situation. The train explained that it was used only for switching trains in the yard. “The very little engine looked up and saw the tears in the dolls’ eye. And she thought of the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain who would not have any toys or good food unless she helped.”
Despite its small size, the little blue engine repeated the mantra “I think I can” over and over again and pulled the train over the mountain. When they arrived at the destination, The Little Blue Engine repeated “I thought I could. I thought I could….”
Five Great Ideas
- We are our brother’s keeper
- No one succeeds alone
- Persistence pays
- What would happen if we decided to succeed?
- What would happen if we let others know that we believed in them?
This book reminded me of Dorothy Brande’s book Wake Up and Live, where she reveals that the formula for success is to act as if it were impossible to fail. Could we move mountains if we acted as if it were impossible to fail? This is a great book that teaches the simple lessons that “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” and believe in yourself.
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