Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Long, L.  (2009).  Otis.  New York:  Philomel Books.


30-Second Plot Summary:  Otis the tractor loves working on the farm.  But after his work is done, he likes to play too.  When a new calf is introduced onto the farm, Otis welcomes him.  But when a shiny, new, yellow tractor is introduced, Otis is retired.  But when the calf gets into trouble, it seems not just any tractor can help it out.

As has become a common trend, there's minimal use of color--grey, white, hints of orange, yellow and meaningful doses of RED.  The illustrations are wonderfully done, incorporating lots of fun angles and grand landscapes.  Long does a great job of playing with perspective--jumping from bird's-eye-views to close up to contrasting images.  I particularly like these pictures:

Now I don't want to jinx.  I certainly wouldn't put money on it (mostly because I'm not good with the monies or figuring out odds).  But with the fact that Otis has down some attention and is being recommended around town, I'm thinking there's some Caldecott potential.  *Knock on wood*  What are your thoughts, few but beloved readers?

Now, this could be the farm setting.  It could be that George Orwell is one of my favorite authors, but with the initial description about how Otis liked to work, I was reminded of Boxer the horse, and in particular, this illustration from the 50th anniversary edition of the book, Animal Farm:

I don't think that's what Loren Long is going for.  But chances are good, I'm the only reader that goes to that dark place.


Since Otis is very much about the experience of feeling included or excluded and about welcoming someone new into the family, this picturebook can be used to help a child get used to the idea of having a baby brother or sister.  This idea of welcoming someone new and helping them to feel at home can also be applied to a classroom environment.  Students can brainstorm ways to welcome a nervous new student who is joining a class who has been together for a long time.  And from the other perspective, Otis can be used to remind students to welcome others to play games with them.

This is a good read-aloud for wee little youngsters.  Chances are good they'll have a lot of fun with the repetition of the putt puff puttedy chuffs.

The story can also be used to share information about farms and specifically the uses of tractors or the behavior and growth of a calf into a cow.

Since so many of the illustrations depict nighttime, the book would also be a good bedtime read.

Quotes of Note:

"There was once a friendly little tractor.  His name was Otis, and every day Otis and his farmer worked together taking care of the farm they called home.  Otis liked to work."

"On occasion, he would chase a rabbit or play ring-around-the-rosy with the ducks to the sound of his steady putt puff puttedy chuff."

"One night when Otis was fast asleep, the farmer brought a beautiful baby calf into the barn.  The calf bawled and bawled for her mother, but when the sleepy sound of a soft putt puff puttedy chuff came from the next stall, the scared little calf stopped balwing and drifted off to sleep."

"Then one day the farmer surprised everyone with a brand-new yellow tractor.  "Time to move out, Otis," the farmer said."

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

1 comment:

  1. Looks super cute! The cover reminds me of Ferdinand the Bull. :)



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