What you should know: Parents need to know that this straight-to-DVD animated adventure is fine for even preschool-aged kids, especially those who love trains. The only potentially upsetting moments are a brief scene when a couple of bullies throw a snowball at a boy and then steal his grandfather's beloved pocket watch, and when a somewhat frightening Nightmare Train threatens Little Engine and her haul. The language includes mild insults like "annoying," "creepy," and "failure," but the message is a classic that all children should be exposed to: If you "think you can" hard enough, you can do anything, even if it seems impossible.
Best for: Ages 4+ Educational value: Kids learn the importance of believing in yourself and trying your hardest to accomplish something. Positive messages: "If you think you can, you will; if you think you can't, you won't." If you truly believe in yourself, you can accomplish almost anything. Positive role models: The Little Engine is a great role model for kids because she's small but hard-working and willing to make her and Richard's dreams come true. She overcomes the odds to climb Dream Mountain. Richard also shows that even kids who are bullied can be heroes. Violence & scariness: Boys bully Richard, throw snowballs at him, and steal his grandpa's pocket watch. A creepy Nightmare Train deceives the Little Engine and threatens to keep Richard and the circus toys trapped in Dreamland. Language: Some mild insults like "creepy," "scrawny little shunter," "little," "failure," "annoying," and the like.