A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Indicates that giving birth is sometimes difficult and you need to fetch the doctor. Shows that in winter storms, heavy snow can make roads impossible to use.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Sometimes you have to step up when someone's in trouble and do what needs to be done to help out. Members of a family or community make sacrifices and take brave risks to help one another out. Family, friends, and a newborn are greater gifts than the shiniest Christmas present.
Positive Role Models
Otis is ever-helpful, self-sacrificing, and brave. The farmer is caring toward his animals and his tractor, Otis, even giving him a shiny new horn as a Christmas present.
Violence & Scariness
Kids might not grasp the pain and possibly life-threatening situation the pregnant horse is in. But if they do, it coud be scary for them. The implication, stated in the text, is that the horse and her foal could die, and that fear may be too much for some preschoolers, who might relate it to a fear of their own mother dying.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that An Otis Christmas is the fourth picture book featuring the cheerful, helpful tractor. The plot involves a mother horse having trouble delivering her foal on Christmas Eve, and Otis overhears the farmer say, "We need Doc Baker out here tonight or we'll lose 'em both!" The horse is shown sick and lying down, with the farmer praying over her "for a miracle." Otis saves the day and brings the vet, and the foal emerges healthy. Still, images of a sick horse and the implication that a mother can die in childbirth could be disturbing for the intended preschool audience.
Is It Any Good?
Otis fans will enjoy this tale because of Otis' eternal optimism and courage and author-illustrator Loren Long's dazzling illustrations, stark and dramatic in the wintery nighttime landscape.
Still, the logic in this story is not as airtight as in previous Otis outings. Would a tractor really drive down a perilous pine log? And will little kids grasp, relate to, or be scared by the horse's life-threateningly difficult labor? Many kids may find this a sweet, exciting story about the caring community of animals and humans that make up Otis' world. But some may find the health-crisis plot confusing or disturbing.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.