Thinking it can for its 90th year, an old friend receives a shiny new update.
Fifteen years after Loren Long’s 75th-anniversary interpretation, Caldecott winner Santat tries his hand at this work of classic children’s literature. Once more a train filled with toys and goodies for all those “good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain” can only be saved by the smallest, most determined engine of them all. As no part of the text has been changed (the “jackknives” for children remain intact in the train’s inventory), Santat’s challenge is to bring the engine into the 21st century visually. Now the “funny little clown” is actually small instead of adult-sized, and one of the dolls depicted has brown skin and straight, dark hair (the other is white with Shirley Temple ringlets). In Santat’s version, when the Little Blue Engine pulls away from the engine that broke down, one of the toys waves goodbye, and it looks on in relief. Some scenes directly reference the earlier editions, such as a shot of the Little Blue Engine pulling over a bridge as animals run alongside. Kids will enjoy small details, like the toy plane that appears in almost every spread. Adults will enjoy the generous format and Santat’s lovingly rendered landscapes. Notes from Dolly Parton and Santat bookend the story.
Can you love another update? We think you will, we think you will, we think you will…. (Picture book. 3-6)