cover image Otis and the Scarecrow

Otis and the Scarecrow

Loren Long. Philomel, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-16396-8

Otis the tractor’s goodhearted nature continues to shine in his fifth picture book. The farmer has just placed a new scarecrow in the cornfield, and the “sour look” permanently stitched onto the scarecrow’s burlap head says plenty about its perceived attitude. As the days pass, the silent scarecrow remains indifferent to Otis and the farm animals below. Eventually, Otis finds a way to bring the scarecrow into the fun he and the animals are having—or at least to bring the fun to him. Although Otis himself is entirely animate, Long leaves the scarecrow’s sentience an open-ended question. As the book comes to a close, Otis “couldn’t be sure, but he thought he might have seen the scarecrow smile.” Readers will have to hazard their own guesses, as the scarecrow’s face is turned away from them in the final pages. Ages 5–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)