Fans of Otis will not be disappointed with the satisfying ending that results in a creative solution and a most happy...

OTIS AND THE PUPPY

From the Otis series

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!” (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25469-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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