cover image Otis


Loren Long, . . Philomel, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-399-25248-8

Readers of classic children's books will find traces of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel , Little Toot and The Story of Ferdinand in this story of “a friendly little tractor.” Otis the tractor loves to work as much as he loves to play. When he snores in the barn, his “soft putt puff puttedy chuff ” consoles a motherless calf. Otis and the calf become pals, and Long (who reillustrated The Little Engine That Could ) pictures them sitting under a tree in Ferdinand the bull's iconic pose. Yet this idyll cannot last. Otis's owner (no loyal Mike Mulligan) purchases a huge “brand-new yellow tractor” and puts Otis out to pasture, where “the weeds began to cover his tires.” Only when the calf gets stuck in a muddy pond does Otis rev to the rescue. Long fashions Otis's headlamps as eyes and accents the charcoal gray and fawn brown gouache with apple red, buttery yellow and denim blue. Resurrecting stories of sweet machines aiding helpless animals is not easy in an era concerned with fossil fuels and feedlots, but Long's story should inspire readers to revisit old favorites. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)