PPBF: The Little Red Caboose…Building Self-Esteem in Children

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.  When you visit her website on Friday, in addition to finding lots of links to other wonderful picture book reviews, you will also find out the winners of the Halloweensie Contest!!!

Before we get to today’s picture book review (I’ll give you a hint…I’m back to the classic picture books), I want to reshare some links to wonderful events going on in the kidlit/picture book community.

  1. Picture Book Month: Visit the website of Dianne de Las Casas to join in the month-long celebration of PICTURE BOOKS!  Every day, a different picture book champion (author, illustrator, etc.) is guest posting…you won’t want to miss these….they will inspire you and help you remember just why you love to read and write picture books.
  2. Picture Books and Crafts for Kids: Please pass the word about this new YouTube series for parents and teachers and kids…every Sunday, I’ll be choosing a picture book to read aloud…and then I’ll do a simple related craft project.  Last week I spotlighted Yes We Can by Sam McBratney and this Sunday I will be reading The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter and we will create a geometric-shape train picture.  Each segment will highlight a parenting problem such as setting up good bedtime routines or a children’s challenge like learning to be a good friend.
  3. I’m also teaming up with author and educator Susan Case to do a Thanksgiving Google+ Hangout/YouTube video on Monday afternoon as part of a week-long Thanksgiving celebration by parent bloggers.  Our segment, Acts of Random Kindness, will include a reading of Norman the Doorman by me and a super craft project done by Susan.
  4. PiBoIdMo:  Picture Book Idea Month is the brain-child of children’s author,Tara Lazar.  If you signed up, you are already immersed in the world of picture books…trying to come up with 30 fresh ideas for picture book manuscripts during this month.  But, even if you have not joined the challenge, please run over there…don’t walk… to read an AMAZING guest post EVERY DAY this month…these posts will instruct and educate you…as well as motivate you to write the picture book that every child will want to read over and over again.  For example, today’s post, by author Ame Dyckman, encourages us to revisit the picture books of our youth to recapture the magic we felt back then as each page turned and we eagerly anticipated the next one.

Ame’s advice conveniently leads into my Perfect Picture Book Friday pick for today.

The Little Red Caboose

Written by Marian Potter

Illustrated by Tibor Gerbely

Publisher: Golden Press (Western Publishing Company) 1953

Ages: 3 and up


Building self-esteem, believing in yourself, courage, determination, friendship

Opening lines:

“The little red caboose always came last.”


The little red caboose is attached to the end of a long train of oil cars, coal cars and flat cars.  The people who come to wave at the train are gone by the time the little red caboose passes by and the little red caboose wishes he was one of the other cars.  However, when the train almost slips down the mountain, the little red caboose saves the day!

Why do I like this book:

You recapture a ‘kinder gentler’ time as you turn the pages of this beautifully illustrated classic.  Kids love books about trains (this is the great-grandfather of the Thomas series).  The message of being disappointed in who you are and wishing you were someone else is one that children (and adults) will understand and relate to…and the joyous triumph of the little red caboose will encourage kids to believe in themselves.  I love books that help build self-esteem in children.

Related Activities:

GEOMETRIC TRAIN PICTURE (http://mamasmiles.com/geometric-shapes-train/)

You will need: One piece of light colored construction paper, several pieces of different colored construction paper, scissors, glue stick and crayons or markers.

  1. Use the light colored piece as the base.
  2. Cut small circles (wheels), squares  and rectangles and triangles (the different cars of the train).
  3. Help the child put the shapes together to form the train.
  4. Paste each piece in place.
  5. Let the child decorate the train…perhaps drawing the train number and the tracks.
  6. Hang up in a place of honor!

Another great website here with a page devoted to books about trains: http://www.readingtoknow.com/2011/06/train-picture-books.html



Young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.  If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft and cooking activities, you can purchase a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  At under $20, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.

38 thoughts on “PPBF: The Little Red Caboose…Building Self-Esteem in Children

  1. I’ve read The Little Engine That Could, but not The Little Red Caboose! How is that possible? I will have to rectify the situation immediately! You can’t read one end without the other 🙂 I also love books that build self-esteem, and older books from a kinder, gentler time, so I’m very happy to be adding this to our list! Thanks, Vivian 🙂


    • Yes…it was a golden time for many of us.  That’s why it’s so important for this picture book community to stay strong and encourage the writing, publishing and reading of picture books. 🙂  Thanks for stopping by, Jarm…congrats on winning a copy of “Marathon Mouse”…looks like an awesome book!!!


  2. I knew this book was your selection before I clicked on it. I remember this Golden Book as a child. Love it when we share old books, and this one has such a great message. Love your crafty activities as always. When do you find the time?


    • I also love sharing the old classics with you, Pat…I’m glad you recognized this one right away. 🙂  Lucky you to have gotten a treasure trove of Golden Books! Where do I find the time…ummmm…I take the hours away from my sleeping time. 🙂  I only wish I coud do this 24 hours a day. 🙂   


    • Thank you, Richa! I think you are replying to me (not to Diane)…thank you so much for stopping by…I went to your blog and LOVE it…and thanks for the information about the new book by Ms. Quek…I love it!


    • Thanks so much, Joanna…I just retrieved you from the spam folder. 🙂 I’m excited about the google+ Thanksgiving hangout…one more way to share picture books and the message that reading to kids is important!


  3. What a great story, Vivian. It sounds familiar — my grandmother had a collection of Little Golden books and this might have been one of them. Thanks for reminding us of it.


    • Yup, Carrie…the original publication date looks like 1953…I was six years old and already passionate about picture books…all I needed was a stack of books, a tin of broken crayons, a coloring book and a doll…and I could be happy for HOURS. Guess I haven’t changed…although now I would want a real little one to read and craft with. 🙂 🙂


    • TeeHee…you are funny, Milka!  Might that not be considered sedition and mutiny?  Doesn’t everyone LOVE Thomas the Train books?  Only joking!!!! I’m not a fan of the books…but I do understand the fascination with Thomas the Train…most kids love trains…so why not read them “The Little Red Caboose” and “The Little Engine That Could”!!!!  That’s my thought. 🙂  The other stuff is just character-driven product hype. 🙂   


      • I agree! Boys love trains but there are tons of books that are way better than the Thomas series, which is very clearly copying the little engine that could. So many trains on the Thomas series whine and complain, but Thomas is the most caring, just little the little engine. There’s really nothing new in that series, just expanding what was already written.


    • I’m so glad you feel that way, Kirsten.  I know that there is much to be said for the newer crop of picture books…in fact, some are downright amazing…and will be classics one day…but I’m such a fan of the older classics…I’m sure part of it is nostalgia and the happy memories of my childhood. 🙂   


  4. Fantastic post, Vivian! I love your ideas and your exuberance. Kids love having positive attention from the adults in their life.

    Have fun with you youtube series! I’m sure your audience will.


    • Thanks so much, Nancy…you are a very encouraging friend. 🙂  I just got an email from the Google+ lady who is promoting these Hangouts…she wants me to do one on Tuesday also..with a Thanksgiving theme…and I am already doing another on Monday with author and kindergarten teacher Susan Case. 🙂  Like cartoon Kathy says, “Aaacckkkk!” 🙂   


    • I am having fun, Nancy…so much. 🙂 Glad you liked the video…I did another today with Susan Case…and will be doing yet another tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2:30pm MST…Being Thankful for Friends…and i’ll be reading “The Day No One Played Together” by Donalisa Helsley. I”ll be making a “Storybook of Friends” as the craft activity. Thanks for your kind words. 🙂


  5. Pingback: Three Holiday Gifts From Show Me How! « Positive Parental Participation

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