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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  7,284 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Tootle, a young train in training, begins leaving the tracks to cavort in the meadow until engineer Bill figures out a way to lure him back.
Hardcover, 24 pages
Published February 12th 2001 by Golden Books (first published 1945)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,284 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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An interesting tale about a train growing up. It is all important to stay on the rails, but Tootle likes to get out in the pasture and play in the flowers. The whole town gets together to keep him on the rails.

This feels like a story of society controlling us and keeping us from being individuals to what will serve the community best. It feels like conformity to me.

It’s quite an interesting story and I find it fascinating that it triggers me in certain ways. I do have some rebellious nature in
Jen Kautt
Sep 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: those parents whom want to alienate their children from the beauty of nature
Tootle,Tootle, all you wanted to do was "dip and soar" like the butterflies you admired in the meadow of Lower Trainswitch. But Bill, head engineer of the School for Engines and "The Mayor Himself" taught you that it was foolish for an engine to get lost looking at hollyhock flowers when he could be the fastest flyer since "old 300".
Yes, a children's book that touts the importance of the coal blackned lungs of the Industrial Revoultion in place of the Romantic reverance of nature. Work and stric
Feb 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
This is quite possibly the worst book written for children. Ever. Joe loves it, but I refuse to read it to him. It's all about "staying on the tracks no matter what." A little engine finds that he likes playing in a meadow, with the birds and bugs and flowers, and the whole town conspires against him to keep him on the track. There's one illustration where he's sobbing and the all white town is gleefully trying to get him out of the meadow. And what the fuck is with the black horse that gets him ...more
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
My child was wild about this book at at two could pretty much recite it. It's cute and Tootle is adorable. The illustrations are charming. As for those who are so worried that it preaches conformity, please try growing up a bit. It preaches discipline, actually, which is quite different from conformity. My son today is an artist and writer. He has and has always had a great imagination. ...more
Derrick Schneider
Aug 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Here is how I summarize the themes in this book: Your greatest desire should be to put yourself into the service of a large industrial system, and the best way to get that desire is to rigidly follow all the rules. Literally don't stop to smell the flowers, and don't think outside the box. ...more
I used to read this all the time! Other than the fact trains can't run off the tracks to have a good time in the meadow, it's a fun read!

Side note: I agree with another review that it does not preach conformity. I think it's a great little story that teaches us to "stay on the right track!"
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens
Some give this 1945 children’s book low ratings for teaching a message of “staying on the rails,” criticizing the implicit message that children should remain within the boundaries set for them instead of exploring all the world has to offer. I give it a low rating for the opposite reason. Boundaries are necessary for joy and usefulness. But despite the main character repeatedly breaking the central rule given to him (a rule designed not just for his own safety, but for the safety of those aroun ...more
John Yelverton
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Such a fun and friendly book about a fun and friendly train.
Lewis Manalo
Jun 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
If you want to teach your children to conform to the cowardly whims of group think, to embrace conformity, and to "stay on the tracks" outlined by authority, this is the book to give them. Free-thinkers, stay clear of this brightly-colored blot on children's literature. ...more
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I only just recently read this story for the first time, and I have been an adult for many years. Although I had a serious collection of Little Golden Books as a child, my collection did not include this one.

At first as I read this book, I was strongly reminded of Ferdinand the bull, so I liked it. But the ending was very different. If Ferdinand's beloved cork tree had been surrounded by red capes, they might have been the same book. The biggest difference is, Tootles wanted to run the express
When books like this are given such bad reviews and being touted as needing to be burned it makes me angry. I understand not all books are great to have for their messages and that some can be considered outdated but I also most definitely think that the age of a book needs to be taken into consideration before we pass such judgment. Then again we are at the point where we judge our elders for everything that we consider wrong without considering all the facets that have contributed to them bei ...more
Aug 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
I didn't like this book. There was a terrible ending. I found it interesting that this book was basically just a way to intimidate children into following directions. As someone else stated, the townspeople are all white and not at all racially diverse. Pretty much all of the characters in this book are jerks as well. ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A little train learns that if you work hard you can accomplish your dream.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book when I was a kid!
Joshua Barnett
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Toddlers through 2nd Graders
Recommended to Joshua by: Mother
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pulled this one off the shelf to read to my infant today. Nearly split my sides laughing. One must read this book with a dirty mind, if you do that, it is possibly the funniest book of double entendre ever written. On accident of course, but please do yourself a favor and read it this way.

On a more serious note about the book. Most people take a look at it and immediately condemn it for its written message without being able to analyze the story. They look at what is said: "the most important th
Jun 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who will read it critically and realize it's not just a cute story
As a non-comformist, I was mortified the first time I read this book as an adult (10 years ago). I immediately looked at the original year it was published-- 1945. Smack in the McCarthy Era. No wonder! Red flags? Stay on the rails? Ironically, I now have two preschoolers who love this book. I keep it around so we can eventually have a discussion about its messages. How does one start a discussion with small children about McCarthyism vs. anarchy? I give this book three stars because on one hand, ...more
Mar 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: shorts, etc
OMG I hate this fucking book. I can't even believe I took the time to look it up (I was thinking about GOOD stories for impressionable children, I believe) but once I saw it was here I had put in my 2 cents.

My first reaction when reading this to my infant son one night at bedtime was: What. The Actual. Fuck? Maybe it wasn't overtly written as such, but it read to me as, "Don't color outside the lines. Don't try to be different. Stay in your predetermined place. Always obey."

Fuck. That. Noise.

Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I saw this children's book at a library, and instantly remembered the art work! I had my mom read this book to me over and over again in those preschool, can't read days. My original copy had my crayon "add on art work". My big brother loved this story and art, too. We both loved trains, and this story was about Toodles the engine.I noticed that there were complaints about the idea that this little story teaches people to be conformists. Well, after my 7 years in the military I became involved i ...more
Sarah Balmer
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Modern Fantasy
Ages: 1-6
This tale of a train that gets off track and lost in the nature around him is an interesting one, but has certain messages I'm just not sure about. Overall, this book seems harmless as a story of a way to be disciplined and stay on the rails, which can be good, but I think this book may take it over the line just a little from telling a child to not think outside the box and literally, as Tootle does, not stop and smell the roses. This book can be completely harmless, and
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was personally 10 times better than The Little Engine That Could and deserves 6 stars since I personally found the animations to be much more appealing, however, that is the true original version. I had so much fun with this book and taught me to persevere through difficult times. "I think I can I think I can I think I can!" was the mantra it teaches youth. I can't tell you how many times I read this story. This is a MUST HAVE for any child, in addition to first introducing them to The Litt ...more
Jeffrey Hite
Jan 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: kids
This is one of those books that for reasons that I can't understand, my children love. We have the original version, and I am very glad that the book is starting to fall apart because I now have a good reason not to read it. I love my kids and normally I will read whatever they bring to me but I always cringe when they bring this one.

This books seems to be about someone who wants something but is not willing to pay the price it takes to get what they want. They have to be forced into it. And the
Madonna Stephens
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kids-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Skylar Burris
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens
This is very wordy, a little too wordy for my preschooler, but she has nonetheless asked to read it repeatedly, and I have been forced to "condense" it in some parts to keep her (and, alas, myself) interested. She doesn't seem to get the concept of what is going on; she just enjoys the pictures of the train. It's not my favorite of the classic Golden Books. I'm not sure I find the message particularly positive. It's not really as if Tootle truly learns the importance of following reasonable rule ...more
Nicole Guerra-Coon
The first few pages of this book are just heartbreakingly cute. Baby trains going to school to be big trains! Tibor Gergely illustrations! But then Tootle takes a turn for the dark side. Basically, the moral is you always need to follow the rules, do not stop to smell the flowers, do not be a non-conformist. It's long and preachy and just kind of sad. My three year old loves this book, but my husband always adds an ending of "but whenever Tootle had a day off, he liked to visit his friend the ho ...more
Rosa Cline
There is nothing like Little Golden Books that have withstood the test of time to read and reread to your children and grandchildren. Written at a time when stories told a story not just a line or two per page.

In this story a little engine is in engine school along with other little engines and the main thing he learns is to never leave the track. But things draw him off so the conductor has to find a way to 'trick' him back and teach him to stay.

A charming storybook that I enjoyed as a little
Aug 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: childrens-books
I realized awhile back that I had never read this story before. I always got it mixed up with "The Little Engine That Could", which we read repeatedly growing up and loved! Well, I found a copy of it recently, used, and read it, but did not enjoy it as I expected to. I actually found it just plain ridiculous and irritating! Especially since the phrase "staying on the rails no matter what" is repeated about a million times. I wanted to like it, I really did, but just couldn't! ...more
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cute book. I almost think all these little books should be counted as 24 pages because of the art work even on the Title Page. For older children when I have children read it I have them read the title page also and we discuss the story, as to how well they like it. Weather they like the art work, who did the art work and if they remember hearing of that illustrator before. It is fun.
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