Every once in a while, there is something that comes across our desks at MazelTot.org that is inspiring for both children and parents. When the Little Engine Couldn’t is a book that does this in a new creative way that will entertain children while also helping parents teach an important lesson. This book campaign was started by a local dad and co-founder of Ekar Farm, Ilan Salzberg, and his sister, Carmiella Salzberg. The book takes a new look at a classic children’s story and shows children that they actually can find and create what they want and need through things that are around them. Below is the description of the book from their Kickstarter campaign.

The chug, chug, chug, puff, puff, puff, ding-dong, ding-dong of the train didn’t come to the city that day. It didn’t come the next day either….

We all root for the train each time we read the classic tale of The Little Engine That Could, but should we? Do the children really need a train for their food and toys? In our edition, the children on the other side of the mountain learn that “kids can” find and create what it is they want and need themselves. The children in our tale discover that there are great sources of food all around them, and that with their imagination they can make their own fun.

Carmiella Salzberg, a printmaker and gallery artist (carmiella.com),  Katie Olson, a trained professional illustrator (http://ktolson321.wix.com/kt-olson), and Ilan Salzberg, a writer, former organic farmer (http://ekarfarm.org/) and passionate locavore have taken up the charge of retelling this classic story.

By using found material to create the world in which the children live, we’ve practiced what we preach. We transform trash into trees, buildings, and couches! The reader can study each page and reference an “I-spy”-like index in the back of the book to figure out which repurposed materials form the world of the book.

For example, this image…

was printed from this collagraph printmaking plate…

… made from string (grass), tin foil (mountains), cling-wrap (sky), packing tape (clouds), cardboard (train station and post), brown tape (bench), hole reinforcer stickers (lights on post), and paper from a past art print (railroad track).

What pieces of ‘trash’ can you find in this city?

What do you think we used in this living room?

We are very passionate about this project and excited to get it off the ground and into the hands of little ones!

If you are interested in learning more about this book and helping the book get published, visit their Kickstarter page.