Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: The Little Engine That Could by various authors

The Premise:
A little coal-powered engine believes in itself so much that it makes it up to the top of a steep hill.

The Good:
This heartwarming and inspirational tale is most likely based on a true story. It glosses over the unseemly aspects of railroad building to let the reader focus on the tale of triumph and the power of positive thinking. The Little Engine’s mantra “I think I can” is catchy and should be memorable for most readers.

The Bad:
The physics in the book are dubious, at best. The reader is asked to suspend belief as a smaller engine with less torque is able to out-perform larger, more powerful engines based on “willpower”. How many pounds per square inch does “willpower” produce? And, really, who decided to lay down tracks at that steep of a grade, anyway? It seems as though the author(s) did little-to-no research and instead decided to bend the science to fit their needs.

The Verdict:
Read it before bedtime. While preachy and highly inaccurate, the book’s repetition of “I think I can” is rhythmic and repetitive enough to lull the reader to sleep.