It’s the feather of a bird! It’s the ticket for a train! It’s… a children’s book printed entirely from found material!

The chug, chug, chug, puff, puff, puff, ding-dong, ding-dong of the train didn't come to the city that day. It didn't come the next day either....

We all root for the little engine each time we read the American classic, The Little Engine That Could, as she sweetly huffs and puffs ‘I think I can! I think I can!’, but should we? Do the children on the other side of the mountain really need her to provide all of their food and toys? In our modern twist, When The Little Engine Couldn’t, we imagine what would have happened if the train didn't make it over that hill to bring food and toys to those good boys and girls on the other side. In our tale, the children soon realize that there is food growing all around and that a ‘toy’ can be something much more outside-of-the-box than they previously thought. In fact, it can be the-box-itself...

As the children in our story embark on their adventure, the unique illustrations of When The Little Engine Couldn’t invite readers to dive deeper into the book’s message. The children themselves are cut and collaged out of magazines, and all of the book’s illustrations are printed through the ‘collagraph printmaking' method from found material. Buildings are printed from bus tickets and business cards, the grocery store from a crushed soda can and bread-bag ties, the toy store from puzzle pieces and a toy tag, and the park from real grass and dirt! With an Answer Key in the back of the book for what material was used for each page, our book becomes an interactive ‘I-Spy the texture of found material!’ game for adults and children to enjoy together. When The Little Engine Couldn’t is a children’s book designed to foster deeper awareness of how the food and objects we use were grown and made, how they traveled to us, and how they will be taken care of once we finish with them. We hope that readers will be inspired to get creative with ‘trash’ and to spend more time together outside gardening and playing! We know we can! We know we can!

Our story:

After her brother, Ilan, approached her with the initial book concept in 2014, Carmiella’s imagination was sparked to conceptualize how she could utilize her bourgeoning expertise in collagraph printmaking to create the visual world of the story. Carmiella then brought on her dear college friend, the incredibly talented illustrator and animator, Katie, to help design the page layouts and to create the characters. The three organized a successful kickstarter campaign through which they were discovered by the publisher, Mascot Books. And voila! When The Little Engine Couldn’t was published by Mascot Books in 2017.

Check out our 2016 Kickstarter Campaign here:


For purchase, please visit the following links: 


Mascot Books

Barnes and Noble



Or Visit:

The Bookies Bookstore   4315 E. Mississippi Ave.  Denver, CO 80246

32nd Avenue Books, Toys and Gifts   3633 W. 32nd Ave.  Denver, CO 80211

Barnes and Noble Book Store   960 S Colorado Blvd.  Glendale, CO 80246

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