A medley of aspirational sentiments and newly fashioned illustrations—both inspired by those of the classic tale.
The result is as ill wrought as it is ill conceived. Hart boils down the various versions of the original story’s major themes to a series of pithy formulations. These range from the mundane, “A positive attitude always helps when the going gets tough,” to such excruciatingly trite lines as “Remember that it’s always darkest before the dawn,” and “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel!” He then fills in the page count with assorted tangential apothegms: “Always run on time”; “Everyone needs a little downtime for maintenance” (followed later on by “It’s okay to take a break”); “Don’t forget that everyone travels on their own track.” Evidently not having seen the final text, Howarth follows up this last with a contradictory view on the next page of two engines on the same track (“Go at your own pace!”). An earlier sequence involving a fallen tree finds it placed in three different places in as many illustrations. In general she sticks to traditional portrayals of the anthropomorphic locomotives and the toys in her diminutive scenes but gives one of the two toy dolls brown skin.
Strong evidence that sometimes you really do just think you can. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)