I only just recently read this story for the first time, and I have been an adult for many years. Although I had a serious collection of Little Golden Books as a child, my collection did not include this one.
At first as I read this book, I was strongly reminded of Ferdinand the bull, so I liked it. But the ending was very different. If Ferdinand's beloved cork tree had been surrounded by red capes, they might have been the same book. The biggest difference is, Tootles wanted to run the express line and Ferdinand did not want to leave his meadow. While I understand the conformist subtext, I can't hate this story as much as others do. Sometimes we do have to set aside play to achieve our goals. I would like to think that Tootles was occasionally able to still sneak off the trains when he wasn't running the express. At least, that is how I would have written it.
The artwork is joyfully wonderful. Perhaps that is why I am so forgiving of the story itself.