I've never liked this book and on the way home from yoga this morning I decided that it actually sends a really BAD message....one is the image of life as an uphill struggle with only one track and two choices.
Sure, sometimes persistence is a good thing, but at other times, it's just plain dumb.
I think fairy tales actually have emotional messages that are lot closer to the psychological truth: persistence and hard work, courage, kindness, presence of mind -- they're all necessary. But they're not enough all by themselves -- most happy endings in fairy tales come about as a result of these PLUS help and dumb luck.
In The Uses of Enchantment Bettleheim writes about this a lot more eloquently; he tells about a child who reminded herself of THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD when she was trying to do something....she kept trying and trying, but she never did succeed at whatever it was and thinking of the book actually made her feel worse.
So, I say, write books that are realistically hopeful...and I wish someone would do a rewrite of this with the little engine jumping the rails or turning itself into a flying machine.