A rare miss for Long and Otis

AN OTIS CHRISTMAS

From the Otis series

As the title indicates, the little tractor Otis celebrates Christmas.

Christmas is always exciting, but this one is “even more special,” as a baby foal is due. That snowy Christmas Eve is made more thrilling yet when the farmer gives Otis his very first Christmas present: a new horn. Otis can barely contain himself. But in the middle of the night, he awakes to hear the sounds of consternation in the pregnant mare’s stall: “Something [is] very wrong.” Unfortunately, the snow is falling fast, and the stable hand sent to fetch Doc Baker promptly fishtails into a snowbank. It’s Otis to the rescue again. Off he goes, “putt puff puttedy chuff,” through the woods (where he is briefly lost) to Doc Baker’s, where he uses his new horn to sound the alarm. Doctor and tractor make it back just in time. While Otis is a charming character, and the Christmas theme has great appeal, this is a rather lackluster outing for the sturdy tractor. Long’s heroic art is at its best in scenes with people and animals, his Lawson-esque line investing characters with emotion and movement. The rendition of Otis’ journey is rather less effective; only the most credulous of children will accept the sight of Otis inching his way down a massive, snow-covered tree trunk. The text likewise underwhelms, with its overreliance on exclamation points and treacly delivery.

A rare miss for Long and Otis . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-16395-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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