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Sweet, nostalgic friendship tale with a truly classic look.

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
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

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.

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.

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Loren Long
Illustrator:Loren Long
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Cars and trucks, Friendship, Horses and farm animals, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:September 22, 2009
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle

This review of Otis was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 2 year old Written bymindymack December 22, 2009

good for ages 3 and up

What other families should know
Great role models
Parent of a 10 year old Written byganster123 March 18, 2010


it is prety good
What other families should know
Great role models


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