''The Little Engine That Could'' is a famous children's story, used to teach children the value of optimism and perseverance. The story is said to be a metaphor for the American dream.

An early published version of the story, "Story of the Engine that Thought It Could", appeared in the New York ''Tribune'', April 8, 1906, as part of a sermon by the Rev. Charles S. Wing.

A version of the story appeared in the six-volume Bookhouse Books, which were copyrighted in the United Kingdom in 1920 and sold in the United States by door-to-door sellers. Although this version contained no author attribution, it was edited by Olive B. Miller and published in Chicago. The Bookhouse version began, "Once there was a Train-of-Cars, and she was flying merrily across the country with a load of Christmas toys for the children who lived way over on the other side of the mountain."

In the 1941 Disney movie ''Disney/{{Dumbo}}'', the work train taking the circus animals to their destination pulls its cargo up a hill repeating the well known saying, "I-Think-I-Can-I-Think-I-Can," and rolls down the hill saying, "I-Thought-I-Could-I-Thought-I-Could"

The best-known incarnation of the story ''The Little Engine That Could'' was written by "Watty Piper", a pen name of Arnold Munk, who was the owner of the publishing firm Platt & Munk. Arnold Munk was born in Hungary; as a child, he moved with his family to the United States, settling in Chicago. Later he moved to New York. Platt & Munk offices were at 200 Fifth Avenue till 1957, when Arnold Munk died. Munk used the name Watty Piper both as an author of children's books and as the editor of many of the books that Platt & Munk published. He personally hired Lois Lenski to illustrate the book. This retelling of the tale ''The Pony Engine'' appeared in 1930. The first edition attributes Mabel C. Bragg as the originating author. However, Mabel C. Bragg, a school teacher in Boston, never claimed to have originated the story.

In 1954, Platt & Munk published another version of ''The Little Engine That Could'', with slightly revised language and new, more colorful illustrations by George and Doris Hauman. A 1976 rework featured art by Ruth Sanderson.

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Relevant tropes:

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[[folder:The Book]]
* AnthropomorphicFood: The apples and oranges that the train is taking to all the little boys and girls.
* CoolTrain
* {{Determinator}}: She thinks she can.
* ForegoneConclusion: She can.
* LivingToys
* NonIronicClown: A toy clown assumes leadership of the toys after the engine stalls out and asks other passing engines for help.
* RaceAgainstTheClock: The train has to get over the hill by sunrise.
* SurvivalMantra: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Nothing is ever stated about what became of the broken-down train in the book. However, the 1991 film shows that [[spoiler: a doctor engine was notified of what'd happened, and took the broken down engine back to the train yard.]]

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[[folder:The 1991 Half-Hour Film Adaptation]]
* AwardBaitSong: ''Nothing Can Stop Us Now''
* CanonForeigner: Chip the bird, the boy Eric and his sister, the Tower and the Doctor engine.
* DisneyDeath: Tillie is buried beneath snow in the climax.
* EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys: There's one here, named Jeepers.
* FourFingeredHands
* HeyItsThatVoice: KathSoucie is the voice of Tillie as well as Missy the ballerina.
** FrankWelker is Rollo the Clown, Jeepers the Monkey, Farnsworth the Shiny Engine, and Jebediah the Old Engine.
** PeterCullen is Pete the Big Engine.
* JerkAss: The Tower. Good ''God''.
* KarmaHoudini: In spite of the fact that the Tower was an overall JerkAss to everyone (''especially'' Tillie), he is last seen asleep on the job.
* MeaningfulName: ''Grump''ella the Bonneted Bird is a total grump.
* MoodWhiplash: While pulling the train toward the mountain, Tillie and the others sing a cute song about you can do anything if you try...but when they start climbing up the mountain...things get..pretty creepy.
* NamedByTheAdaptation: The old engine is called Jebediah, the broken-down engine is Georgia, the shiny new engine (here a diesel) is Farnsworth, the strong engine is Pete, and the titular Little Engine That Could is Tillie.
* NoNameGiven: Eric's sister is not identified by name through the movie, but the credits reveal her name to be Jill.
* NonHumanSidekick: Chip the bird.
* StealthPun: "For Pete's sake, Pete, watch that smoke!"
** And then in the song, we have the line "When pandemonium is all around" as the camera focuses ona ''panda''.
* StorybookOpening

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[[folder:The 2011 Film Adaptation]]
* AdaptationExpansion
* AllStarCast
* BigBad: The Nightmare Train.
* GenderFlip: The Tower, which was a male in the first movie, is a female here.
** The same goes for the clown.
* GreenEyes: Little Engine.
* HeyItsThatVoice: Isabella from ''Phineas and Ferb'' is the Little Engine.
** Jamie Lee Curtis is Beverly the Clown.
** Whoopi Goldberg is the Tower.
* KidsAreCruel: Two boys pick on Richard. They even steal his grandfather's watch from him.
* NoNameGiven: Some of the engines that show up in this one don't get proper names, unlike the first film adaption.
* PieInTheFace: This is a favorite of Beverly the Clown's.

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