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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

LittleEnginePiperHappy New Year! It’s another edition of Fuse 8 n’ Kate which, at this rate, may be soon renamed The Random Facts About Koalas Show.

So why this book today? My logic here is that since the Time Person of the Year of 2017 was #MeToo I should come up with a classic children’s book with a strong female protagonist. Kate (and some of you out there) may contest whether or not this engine is, indeed, is the real deal. Or (and here we butt heads) even female at all.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Source Notes:

– Koalas Fighting a.k.a. The sound of the devil. Wait for it, though. You don’t hear the hellspawn that is the sound Kate was referring to until near the end of the vid.

– Note the deadly serrated edge. Fun for kids everywhere!


– What is Kate even talking about? This book has blonde-headed dolls and slightly-less-blonde-headed dolls. Total diversity!


– The true victim of this tale? The original engine. I’m so glad that Kate was pissed off about its fate as well.


– E.A.C.   Which is to say, Elephants Always Cry. Really doesn’t matter who the illustrator is.



– I think I’m right in stating that the Little Engine is a significant female heroine. Can I get some agreement here?

– I was trying to think of the long fingered Aye-Aye, by the way. Like this guy:


– What the heck IS this crazy animal?


– All this info I conjure up about this book can be linked to #54 on the Top 100 Poll.

– No. Seriously. What IS “pioneer feminist lore”?

– Interested in this book? Then I highly highly HIGHLY suggest that you read Roy E. Plotnick’s In Search of Watty Piper: A Brief History of the “Little Engine” Story published at The University of Illinois at Chicago.

– Here’s the 2005 edition:


– Here’s Lois Lenski’s cover:




– Seriously, am I the only one seriously bugged by the layout of this book? This is insane.


– Sorry, Mabel C. Bragg. Now you see her . . .


Now you don’t.


– Finally! I have a reason to put up this poster.


– Other famous Hanukkah books? Here’s the contender! I approve.


About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Betsy,

    Did you notice the doll — meant to be an Indian — in Long’s version?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      OH YES. Listen to the podcast if you get a chance. We definitely mention that doll. It’s one of those things where you just stare at it and wonder what the HECK they were thinking.

  2. You mentioning strong female protagonists reminded me of a childhood favorite of mine. I don’t know if it’s on your “classic” list, but if you’re planning to do an Easter book in the spring, it fits the bill: THE COUNTRY BUNNY AND THE LITTLE GOLD SHOES by Du Bose Heyward. Definitely strong female protagonist and, IMO, way ahead in its time.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I know it well! I’d actually argue that it’s the only “classic” Easter Bunny book out there. And I think it was even reprinted recently, so that helps its case as well. Good suggestion!