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Three Little Engines

From Bob McKinnon comes this modern retelling of the beloved classic, Little Engine that Could, that asks young readers, “How does your journey differ from others?” It also serves as a thank you letter to all the parents, teachers, role models, and even strangers, who help to clear the storm or pull the tree trunk from their track.

Available in your favorite bookstores.

The Work of
Bob McKinnon

This website features the work of Bob McKinnon. He is a writer, designer, podcast host, children’s author and teacher. What unites all of his work is the desire to help others move up in life – just as others have helped him. Learn more about Bob and his work in the About section of this website.

Three Little Engines

I think I can, I think I can, I think I… can’t?  What’s an Engine to do when even believing in yourself won’t get you to the top of the mountain? In this modern retelling of the beloved The Little Engine That Could, The Little Blue Engine and her friends attempt to reach the town on the other side of the mountain, but they quickly realize that not every engine is on the same track, and they all face different obstacles in their journey. In Three Little Engines author Bob McKinnon asks young readers: How does your journey differ from others?

While paying homage to the beloved classic, author Bob McKinnon acknowledges that although positive thinking and confidence are important, they are not always enough to help you succeed. In many instances, success requires a helping hand. This book is a gentle introduction to the idea of socioeconomic mobility and inequality in America. Heavily inspired by his own experiences, McKinnon teaches the youngest of readers how to recognize opportunity and inequality in the American Dream, and, most importantly, how to extend a helping hand to those on different tracks of life. At its heart, Three Little Engines is a thank you letter to all the parents, teachers, role models, and even strangers, who help to clear the storm or pull the tree trunk from your track.

Three Little Engines is now a New York Times best seller!  Order your copy today from your favorite online bookseller or your local bookstore:

 

See “The life lessons of Three Little Engines” featured on CBS Sunday Morning

What is Your American Dream Score

What is Your American Dream Score?

Spend five minutes taking this quiz, and you’ll find out what factors were working in your favor and what you had to overcome to get where you are today. At the end, you’ll receive an overall score and a personalized summary of the results (and probably a big dose of pride and gratitude).

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Will

On Thursday, my wife and I met with a lawyer to put in place a will – a task that was long overdue. I suppose that one of the reasons for the delay was our aversion to confronting our own mortality. Though, we already had many of the difficult conversations necessary to make decisions that form the basis for this binding legal document. The most important of which was the selection of who would serve as the legal guardians to our children should both of us die while they were still young. To even type that sentence is heart breaking.

Yet there was one question that we were woefully unprepared for and frankly had never considered.

What would we do if all of us died at the same time?

If questioning our own mortality is difficult, grappling with that of your children’s is unfathomable. Trying to imagine any situation that would take all of our lives at once can send a chill up your spine and a tear down your cheek.

Once we moved beyond the shock of the idea that we might all somehow die together, the practical question of who would receive our assets still remained.

My knee jerk reaction was simply “I don’t care.” This torrent of ambivalence washed over me as I confronted the primal importance of my children and wife. When I am gone, if they are not here to survive me, then does anything really matter?

Of course, I then reflected on others in my family who could benefit from what we had to leave behind or scholarships that could be endowed, charities that could be supported. Yet it felt empty in comparison.

I have often struggled with, if not had an unhealthy fixation, on what my legacy would be. What would I leave behind? When all along the more obvious question is “Who will I leave behind?

On Friday, I attended the funeral of a local man who was the de facto mayor of our town. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. He was always on top of the latest happenings, quick with a smile and hello and ready to bend your ear with a piece of news, advice or encouragement each time he saw you. He called me “Pops” because he almost always saw me with one or more of my children. Often yelling it across the street as we headed in opposite directions. His death was sudden and prior to his funeral, I learned what I had suspected. While he had no children of his own, he left behind many who loved him.

Immediately upon news of his death, someone reached out to our Mayor asking that a local alley next to the diner he frequented daily be named after him. I suspect and hope that support for such a resolution will be huge and action swift.

We all probably prefer to live in the present. Imagining a future that we are not part of, is a tough lift. Yet sometimes events like the writing of wills or the attending of funerals thrust these difficult thoughts upon us.

Like many undesirable things, we can try to avoid them all together or quickly move on to return to the mundane tasks like a to-do list that composes our everyday lives. Better yet, though, we stop and pay these thoughts the respect they deserve, in the hopes that it grounds us on what makes this thing we call life worthwhile.


See all posts from Moving Up Mondays blog

Monday Morning Notes

Delivered to your mailbox each Monday morning, these short notes offer an opportunity each week to reflect on who and what contributes to where we end up in life. Readers tell us it’s a great way to start their week on a positive note. See the latest note below:

Will

On Thursday, my wife and I met with a lawyer to put in place a will – a task that was long overdue. I suppose that one of the reasons for the delay was our aversion to confronting our own mortality. Though, we already had many of the difficult conversations necessary to make decisions that form the basis for this binding legal document. The most important of which was the selection of who would serve as the legal guardians to our children should both of us die while they were still young. To even type that sentence is heart breaking.

Yet there was one question that we were woefully unprepared for and frankly had never considered.

What would we do if all of us died at the same time?

If questioning our own mortality is difficult, grappling with that of your children’s is unfathomable. Trying to imagine any situation that would take all of our lives at once can send a chill up your spine and a tear down your cheek.

Once we moved beyond the shock of the idea that we might all somehow die together, the practical question of who would receive our assets still remained.

My knee jerk reaction was simply “I don’t care.” This torrent of ambivalence washed over me as I confronted the primal importance of my children and wife. When I am gone, if they are not here to survive me, then does anything really matter?

Of course, I then reflected on others in my family who could benefit from what we had to leave behind or scholarships that could be endowed, charities that could be supported. Yet it felt empty in comparison.

I have often struggled with, if not had an unhealthy fixation, on what my legacy would be. What would I leave behind? When all along the more obvious question is “Who will I leave behind?

On Friday, I attended the funeral of a local man who was the de facto mayor of our town. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. He was always on top of the latest happenings, quick with a smile and hello and ready to bend your ear with a piece of news, advice or encouragement each time he saw you. He called me “Pops” because he almost always saw me with one or more of my children. Often yelling it across the street as we headed in opposite directions. His death was sudden and prior to his funeral, I learned what I had suspected. While he had no children of his own, he left behind many who loved him.

Immediately upon news of his death, someone reached out to our Mayor asking that a local alley next to the diner he frequented daily be named after him. I suspect and hope that support for such a resolution will be huge and action swift.

We all probably prefer to live in the present. Imagining a future that we are not part of, is a tough lift. Yet sometimes events like the writing of wills or the attending of funerals thrust these difficult thoughts upon us.

Like many undesirable things, we can try to avoid them all together or quickly move on to return to the mundane tasks like a to-do list that composes our everyday lives. Better yet, though, we stop and pay these thoughts the respect they deserve, in the hopes that it grounds us on what makes this thing we call life worthwhile.

Attribution with Bob McKinnon

Attribution is a podcast, where people from all walks of life, reflect on who and what has contributed to where they ended up. Our hope is after each episode, you feel a little more inspired, grateful, or supported, then when you first hit play. Check out the latest episode below:

Episode 11: Luck or Skill? w/ Maria Konnikova

Maria Konnikova is a New York Times best-selling author, journalist, and professional poker player. Her latest book, The Biggest Bluff, is now out in paperback. It was a fun and fascinating conversation exploring the balance of skill and chance in life. Among the many stories shared was how a chance encounter with a single line in a story she wrote led to my own forthcoming children’s book, Three Little Engines.


Links to learn more about: Maria Konnikova, The Biggest Bluff, America’s Surprising Views of Inequality, Shai Davidai, Three Little Engines, Walter Mischel