The Little Tractor That Could introduced inÂ OtisÂ (2009) gets another chance to shine when a violent weather event requires a daring rescue.
Standing out against neutral-toned bucolic backdrops plainly modeled on Thomas Hart Benton's farmscapes, Otis and his livestock friends delight in games of Follow-the-Leader—all, that is, except the penned-up bull, who greets all approaches with snarling hostility. When the winds rise and a tornado threatens, Otis hustles the animals to a dry gully...then hears the bull's frightened bellow. Bravely racing—"putt puff puttedy chuff"—out into the storm, Otis breaks down the gate and, just in time, leads the terrified bovine bully to safety. Fronting Otis with an expressive face and depicting the angry bull from low angles to give him massive, monumental presence, Long once again places anthropomorphic figures with distinct identities in large-scale settings that have an antique look but a timeless feel. The simply told narrative likewise has a classic air: "Soon the horse would trot to the lead with a 'Neigh, neigh,' as his hoovesÂ clip-clop-clip-clopped." The episode ends with a traditional resolution too, as discreetly used color highlights expand in the final scene to a brightly sunlit view of Otis leading friends—including the reformed bull—in a fresh parade through flower-strewn fields.
Technically accomplished art plus uncomplicated characters, plot and theme (depressingly timely) add up to a likely crowd pleaser.Â (Picture book. 5-7)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Otis, a diminutive and unusually sensitive tractor, befriended a lonesome calf in his eponymous 2009 debut. In this earnest sequel, Otis and his calf buddy join a cow, some ducks, and a horse "for a grand game of follow-the-leader," with Otis motoring along, "putt puff puttedy chuff." Despite his popularity among livestock, Otis avoids the farm's hulking, rust-red bull, which Long pictures looming across an entire spread. The hostile bull lowers his thick head and flares his nostrils, and his hooves trample daisies in a wry allusion to The Story of Ferdinand. One stormy day, Otis senses danger "deep down in his pipes" and sees a tornado dipping from a slate-gray cloud. Leading the animals to safety, he remembers the bull, still locked in his corral. Like Lassie on wheels, Otis chugs to the rescue (the famers have leapt for the root cellar, and the other animals lack the tractor's keen perception, not to mention self-sacrificing nature). Long's sepia-tinged, rolling croplands evoke Dust Bowl paintings and photos, and Otis's heroism is steeped in old-fashioned Americana, from 1930s picture books to 1960s TV dramas. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
PreS-Gr 2--The tractor with the big heart is back in another adventure. Life on the farm is fairly peaceful, except for a menacing bull, which frightens both the tractor and the farm inhabitants. Otis and the animals keep their distance from him--until the day a storm arrives. The tractor knows "deep down in his pipes" that the approaching tempest is no ordinary storm, so working fast he helps his friends find cover in Mud Creek. But from that safe spot the group can hear the dreadful cry of the bull, locked in its pen and smack in the path of the speeding tornado. True to his nature, Otis rushes to the rescue and together they find shelter from the twister. Long offers readers a tender tale with exquisite artwork. The large, gouache-and-pencil illustrations feature unusual perspective and outlined forms with bold dashes of color that contrast with earth-tone backgrounds. The pictures have a retro quality that matches Otis's vintage perfectly. Children will be delighted with this story about friendship.--Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CT[Page 112]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.