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After a hard day at work, a friendly little tractor named Otis likes to wind down with a game of hide-and-seek with his barnyard friends. That group gets one member bigger the night a puppy comes to live at the farm. He's a happy little guy, licking and playing and sleeping up a storm. But he whimpers upon nightfall. So begins the puppy's habit of sleeping on Otis' seat. When a game of hide-and-seek goes awry and the puppy ends up lost in the woods—shown as a page full of black behind the spooked pup—Otis must use his headlights to scour the forest for his frightened friend. Plot isn't the point here—Otis finds the puppy, and that's pretty much the end. What's more valuable is the softly delivered example of true friendship and how it means not giving up on a pal. In sepia-toned illustrations, Long depicts Otis as a surprisingly agile machine with Thomas the Tank Engine-style features and other anthropomorphized attributes (His heart ached deep inside his engine). Simple but moving. Preschool-Grade 1. --Daniel Kraus
Loren Long is a Midwesterner, having grown up in Missouri and attended school at The University of Kentucky in Lexington. He pursued graduate-level studies at the American Academy of Art in Chicago after graduating with a BA in Graphic Design/Art Studio from the University of Kentucky. He and his wife, Tracy, have two sons.
Lovable Otis the tractor is back for a third adventure, in which he overcomes his fear to help out a new canine friend. Otis and his animal buddies, including the calf and bull from previous titles, play hide-and-seek after working on the farm. With a "one-putt, two-puff, three-puttedy four-chuff," Otis begins his turn as "it," which he especially likes. One day, the farmer brings an adorable young pup to the farm, and he immediately wins the hearts of all with his wriggling and wagging and an abundance of wet kisses. But after night falls, the puppy whimpers when he is left alone in his very dark doghouse outside the barn. Otis invites him inside to sleep next to him, and a special friendship forms. The story takes a turn when the puppy, instead of hiding as he is supposed to, gets distracted. In this spread, Long separates the text from what he depicts in the classic-feeling illustrations in gouache and pencil. While the language describes Otis discovering his friends in their silly hiding places--bull is "behind a lone dandelion"--a series of spot images shows the pup following a butterfly until he becomes hopelessly lost in the dark forest. Long contrasts the bright daytime farm scenes with the deepest darks of night to heighten the drama, for Otis must first cope with his own fear of the dark before rescuing his friend. Fans of Otis will not be disappointed with the satisfying ending that results in a creative solution and a most happy reunion. Seek this out--"game on!" -"-Kirkus Reviews" **THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!**--New York Times "It is spring and there is a new puppy on the farm. After Otis rescues the whimpering pooch from the doghouse (and the dark), the two become fast friends. Painterly gouache and pencil illustrations have panoramic views, and stars and headlights shine through the dark of twilight and forest. And that is where the puppy gets lost one evening, after playing hide-and-seek. When the sun sets, and the search party gives up until dawn, Otis confronts his own fear of the dark and forges ahead . . . Older readers will delight in Long's use of idioms, and younger children will appreciate the loyalty of a true friend and understand the terror, not of darkness, but of aloneness. Otis will win readers' hearts."--School Library Journal"