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<p>Brad Walker (the bear), Andrew Murray (the clown), Lindsay Merino (the doll), Sarah Russell (the engine), and Deonn Ritchie Hunt (the train), perform in StoryBook Theater and AAA's adaptation of "The Little Engine That Could." (Photo provided by AAA)</p>
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Adaptation of a classic tale presents an empowering message to kids

As part of AAA's ongoing efforts to curb distracted driving, they've partnered with Kirkland-based Studio East, through its StoryBook Theater program, to help empower its young audience members (ages 3 to 10) to speak up and advocate for their own safety.

A recent AAA survey showed that parents with children living at home are the group most likely to use a handheld electronic device while behind the wheel, even though doing so is extremely dangerous and now illegal in Washington. When these parents were asked what would stop them from using a device while driving, 40 percent answered, "Children asking me to stop because they don't feel safe."

This new production of "The Little Engine That Could" provides young audiences the tools to do just that.

Storybook's adaptation doesn't stray far from the original tale: A train full of new toys for "good little boys and girls" needs an engine to pull it over the mountain. After the first engine breaks, finding a new, suitable engine proves to be quite a challenge.

Three engines that are capable of hauling the train offer to do so, but they're all driving distracted. One engine is talking on its phone, the second is eating and partying, and the third is simply not paying attention to the road. The toys learn to spot these various distractions and decline the ride. When the fourth train chugs along, riding alert and attentive, the toys ask her to take them over the mountain. With a little encouragement in the form of "I think I can, I think I can" the toys arrive at their destination.

AAA and StoryBook Theater hope this story will not only teach children to hold drivers accountable but teach adults to pay attention behind the wheel.

Tickets for public performances (schedule below) are available at storybooktheater.org/2018-19-season, for $15, with 10 percent off for AAA members (use discount code AAAW18). StoryBook Theater also offers weekday performances for school groups and field trips. Student tickets are $9 each. The play's adaptation is by Lani Brockman, and the music and lyrics are by Susan Bardsley.

Carco Theatre in Renton

January 26 at 11 a.m.

January 27 at 11 a.m.., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

Everett PUD Auditorium

March 3 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Shoreline Conference Center

March 16 at 11 a.m.

Hale's Palladium in Fremont

March 10 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

Kirkland Performance Center

February 2 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

February 3 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

February 9 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.

February 10* at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

*Sunday, February 10th shows will be ASL interpreted.

Tickets available for purchase at kpcenter.org

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