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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).

Blog

Forgotten

I was listening to a podcast conversation between Douglas Rushkoff and Sherry Turkle recently. Both scholars have written and spoken extensively about our relationship with technology. Both have also at different times been in rooms surrounded by tech billionaires.

At one point Turkle wondered “What do they know that I don’t?” when thinking about how they have amassed their fortune, whereas she has lived on a more modest academic’s salary.

After a few moments of consideration, she corrected herself realizing, “It’s not ‘what do they know that I don’t know but what have they forgotten that I haven’t.’”

She was referring to the values, experiences and perspective that we all – not just billionaires – often lose or forget as we go through life. It can start out small. A simple questionable decision or compromise that we justify to ourselves in the name of some greater good. But for some this can become a death to our integrity born by a thousand cuts.

Some people, indeed entire cultures, have certain customs or practices intended to prevent this from happening. At one point, this was a central role of religion and church services – a weekly reminder of our moral obligation to each other and the universe.

It has often fallen on the family and its traditions to keep our values in check.

Recently a student told me of a custom in Lagos where it is expected that parents take care of children and then eventually the roles become reversed. One way in which this is manifest, is that the child is expected to give their first paycheck to their parents – as a way of recognizing all the parents have done for the child up to that point.

The parents can elect to keep the check, spread the funds around to other family members and/or return a portion of the check back to the child with a blessing. This custom applies not only to their first check of their first job but to their first check for every job they will ever have. It is little wonder that there are very few nursing homes in Lagos and other African countries. Children instead either build their parents a small home next to theirs or invite them in to live with them.

It is easy to forget so much, as our lives become filled with the trappings of modernity and the constant demands on our time. But losing your moral compass is on a whole different level than misplacing your phone.

Remembering things such as who we are, why we are here, who has helped us along the way, what is really important to us, and what we truly value is not always easy. But it is absolutely essential to a well-lived and happy life.


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:

Forgotten

I was listening to a podcast conversation between Douglas Rushkoff and Sherry Turkle recently. Both scholars have written and spoken extensively about our relationship with technology. Both have also at different times been in rooms surrounded by tech billionaires.

At one point Turkle wondered “What do they know that I don’t?” when thinking about how they have amassed their fortune, whereas she has lived on a more modest academic’s salary.

After a few moments of consideration, she corrected herself realizing, “It’s not ‘what do they know that I don’t know but what have they forgotten that I haven’t.’”

She was referring to the values, experiences and perspective that we all – not just billionaires – often lose or forget as we go through life. It can start out small. A simple questionable decision or compromise that we justify to ourselves in the name of some greater good. But for some this can become a death to our integrity born by a thousand cuts.

Some people, indeed entire cultures, have certain customs or practices intended to prevent this from happening. At one point, this was a central role of religion and church services – a weekly reminder of our moral obligation to each other and the universe.

It has often fallen on the family and its traditions to keep our values in check.

Recently a student told me of a custom in Lagos where it is expected that parents take care of children and then eventually the roles become reversed. One way in which this is manifest, is that the child is expected to give their first paycheck to their parents – as a way of recognizing all the parents have done for the child up to that point.

The parents can elect to keep the check, spread the funds around to other family members and/or return a portion of the check back to the child with a blessing. This custom applies not only to their first check of their first job but to their first check for every job they will ever have. It is little wonder that there are very few nursing homes in Lagos and other African countries. Children instead either build their parents a small home next to theirs or invite them in to live with them.

It is easy to forget so much, as our lives become filled with the trappings of modernity and the constant demands on our time. But losing your moral compass is on a whole different level than misplacing your phone.

Remembering things such as who we are, why we are here, who has helped us along the way, what is really important to us, and what we truly value is not always easy. But it is absolutely essential to a well-lived and happy life.

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 17: Seeing w/ Andrea Elliott

Andrea Elliott has documented the lives of families living in poverty, Muslim immigrants and other people on the margins of power. She is an investigative reporter for The New York Times and the author of Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City (winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.) Her book and our conversation were eye-opening. I hope it helps you see better too. 

Links to learn more about:  Andrea Elliott, Invisible Child