Otis and the Puppy

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Otis and the Puppy Book Poster Image
Gentle hero faces fear to help friend in lovely book.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value
When he's scared, Otis calms himself down by counting to 10. It's a great trick to learn, and one readers may benefit from trying.
Positive Messages
Dependable Otis shows the lengths that a true friend will go to help a friend in need. He also models how to calm fears and cope with a challenging situation.
Positive Role Models & Representations
Otis is thoughtful and brave. He helps the puppy first by inviting him to sleep in the barn, where having company soothes the puppy's fears. And when the puppy is lost, Otis overcomes his own fear of the dark because he knows his little friend is alone and terrified.
Violence & Scariness
The nighttime forest might be a little spooky for sensitive kids.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Otis and the Puppy is a comforting story of friendship and overcoming fears that features the tractor hero introduced in Otis, who also showed bravery in Otis and the Tornado. It's an especially good choice for children who are afraid of the dark. Otis notes the physical signs of fear -- shaking, heart racing -- and uses a counting technique to subdue the fear and go on.

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What's the story?

A friendly puppy has joined gentle Otis the tractor and his friends at the farm. That night, the frightened puppy's whimpers awaken Otis, who invites the puppy to join him. From that night on, the puppy spends his nights in the barn with his tractor friend. One day, the puppy joins in a game of hide-and-seek. Distracted, he wanders off and gets lost. Otis and the farm animals search late into the night until the farmer halts their efforts until morning. But Otis, knowing his little friend is afraid of the dark, clicks on his headlights and ventures out in the night. He's terribly frightened, but he knows the puppy is, too. So he closes his eyes, counts to 10, and musters up the courage to help his friend.

Is it any good?

Otis, the sweet and gentle tractor, is back in in another story destined to become a family favorite. OTIS AND THE PUPPY beautifully showcases a loyal friendship and explores nighttime fears. With soothing text and illustrations, it's a great choice for a bedtime read -- particularly for kids who get nervous as the lights grow dim.

The muted colors and strong lines of Loren Long's artwork evoke classics like The Story of Ferdinand and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Shifting perspectives make each spread a delight and beautifully mark the turning point of the story. For example, the text follows Otis as he plays hide-and-seek, while the illustrations focus on the puppy, who has completely forgotten the game and is far more interested in chasing a butterfly.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to be a good friend. Otis and the puppy enjoy playing together, but how do they help each other?

  • Ask kids what fear physically feels like -- pounding heart, racing thoughts, and so on. Then practice Otis' counting technique: Try running around to get your heart racing, then be still and count to 10. Talk about how you feel afterward.
  • How do you think Otis and the Puppy compares with the first book, Otis? Would you like to read more stories about Otis? What do you like about him?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and friendship stories

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