Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Otis Book Poster Image
Sweet, nostalgic friendship tale with a truly classic look.

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows what an old-time tractor looks like. Shows firefighters do more than figth fires -- they sometimes do rescue missions. 

Positive Messages

This is a sweet tale of friendship, and it offers a lesson on nurturing self-worth and appreciating value. Otis, at first depressed over being cast aside, finds a new role for himself on his beloved farm.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Otis is loyal and caring, shaking off his depression and rising to the challenge when his friend is in need. And the farmer, who had so easily replaced Otis, is open-minded enough to discover that the old tractor still has much to offer.

Violence & Scariness

A terrified calf sinks into mud as a growing crowd tries frantically to rescue her.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Otis, by Loren Long, is the first in a popular series about a friendly, helpful little tractor. This is a gentle story, but sensitive kids might be anxious during the climactic scene as farmers and firefighters try to save a calf from drowning in mud. All all ends well, of course.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byganster123 March 18, 2010


it is prety good
Parent of a 2-year-old Written bymindymack December 22, 2009

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Otis is a little red tractor who loves to both work and play on his farm. When a scared calf arrives in his barn, his soft putt-puffs soothe the new arrival and the two become close companions. They enjoy each other’s company until Otis is replaced by a new tractor, and the dispirited old tractor can’t be budged from his weed-covered resting place. The calf, lonely and sad, one day trudges into a muddy pond and gets stuck, sinking deeper and deeper. The harder everyone works to rescue her, the more the frightened calf sinks. All seems lost until her old friend, roused by her cries, putt-puffs to her aid.

Is it any good?

Otis will feel like an old familiar storybook to parents. Author-illustrator Loren Long acknowledges Virginia Lee Burton (Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel) and Robert Lawson (The Story of Ferdinand), and their influence runs deeps here. The subdued palette, strong lines, and soft texture give the book the feel of a classic. The prose flows smoothly and gently, and the illustrations of the cavorting tractor and calf offer plenty of energy and humor.

To his credit, Long doesn’t overdo the arrival of the new tractor: Newer, bigger, and better isn’t necessarily bad, and indeed the yellow tractor continues to be the farmer’s go-to machine. But the farmer and especially Otis learn that growing old doesn’t necessitate being put out to pasture, so to speak.

Lovely, soothing artwork owes a debt to classic children’s books.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about coping with change. How does Otis feel when he’s replaced? How do you think he feels once the farmer realizes how helpful he still can be?

  • Families can also talk about unlikely friendships, like the Disney tale The Adventures of Milo and Otis and even the classic Charlotte's Web. Why does it often give readers that warm-fuzzy feeling? What other books or movies of unlikely friendships can you think of?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love things that go and friendship tales

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate