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Have I told you lately how wonderful Loren Long's books are? Deeeeeep breeeeaaath.... and lets continue.

How the stroke of his paintbrush, coming from afar brings smiles to the faces of my twins?

Now, please stop reading this post. Kindly look again at the pictures. Now let's say it together....

Long before Loren Long's fame went planet-wide with his spectacular illustrations for Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, Long was already a real super star... in my house, at least.

Loren Long's picture books (Otis, Toy Boat and The Little Engine That Could) were among the first "more serious" picture books that I offered to my twins - when they were still two and a half years old.

From Day 1 that we read it - my little girl and boy fell in love with Long's stunning artwork and heartbreaking story.

A story about an old red tractor named Otis.

Sounds familiar? Another car/truck/tractor story for boys?

Think again. This is a deeper book for both girls and boys that has several layers.

Otis is a book about compassion, true friendship, beauty and the value of life.

Long's jovial little tractor adores to work, but after a hard day in the fields - he unwinds by playing around the farm.

One night, while Otis is sleeping in the barn, the farmer brings a little baby calf to sleep in a neighbouring stall. Fortuntately for the calf, the sound of Otis' motor rumbling "putt puff puttedy chuff" calms it down. It falls asleep.

A friendship is born and the tractor is trailed by the baby calf from that day on, wherever Otis goes.

At the end of each day the two often sit together under an apple tree (in an homage to Munro Leaf's Ferdinand) and watch the barn below.

But everything changes one day when the farmer buys a new yellow tractor and Otis is left to rust outside the barn.

Still, Otis' finest hour comes when he saves the little calf from
drowning in the nearby Mud Pond - after the farmer, his neighbors, the new modern yellow tractor and the fire department all fail to pull out the baby calf.

This heroic deed reinstates Otis' former status in the farm and he once again becomes an integral part of the farm's day-to-day activities.

The beautiful ending captivates kids who go through a roller-coaster of emotions with Otis - as he sinks from his former glory into the dolldrums of isolation and uplifts himself to heroic status.

I know what you are thinking - there are many beautiful children's stories out there.

You are right.

What makes Otis extra special is the remarkable talent of Long as an illustrator.

The combination of almost fully monochrome drawings in guache (excluding the red color of Otis, the yellow of his rival yellow tractor, brown calf and some small details) and a vibrant and exciting text makes for a unique experience for children.

This is a book that I purchased for its artistic merit, hoping to influence the taste of my kids one day when I become older.

I made a mistake.

There was no need to wait. My kids recognized genius as soon as I opened the book for our first reading.

If you want to expose your kids to an artistic masterpiece, do not wait.

Loren Long's talent as an illustrator is so palpable that it practically spills out from the pages.

Finally, what makes this book an unmissable treat is that the quality and size of the hardcover edition that is simply fantastic for read aloud sessions.

Have I told you lately that ... Otis is a keeper.

If you have three minutes to spare, please watch below a short 3-minute video featuring Loren Long in which he reveals how he created unforgettable Otis.

Don't forget to show the video to your kids after reading the book!

Otis is available in bookstores across the US:

The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

and from other countries:

If you wish to find more books illustrated and penned by Loren Long, please click here.


  1. Hi Holly,

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Indeed, his illustrations are unique. Timeless stuff!

    Last night we read Long's Toy Boat ... as good as the first time! 

    You are in for a treat.

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @9a7f03309d3213395f81f25e8601d9a3 

  2. Love the artwork--I can't wait to get this.

  3. Bought it on your recommendation, got it today and read it, kids loved it!  Sweet story, gorgeous pictures and a fun ending.  Thank you so much for pointing us this way, I'm on my way to buy the second one!

  4. Hi Jenn,

    I am so, so happy to hear that your kids love it! Otis is such a remarkable book, indeed. 

    We recently re-read it (four days ago) and I was impressed how timeless it is. 

    My kids are always spellbound - from the beginning to the end.

    Your words are spot on! "Sweet story, gorgeous pictures and a fun ending!"

    Hey, is this is a coincidence or what - but I just ordered Otis and the Tornado as well! As far as I see, the reviews on Amazon are great for this book as well (http://amzn.to/uz4ZE5). Please, do tell me your impressions of Otis and the Tornado too, after you read it together!

    Can't wait until it arrives! 

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @16c99c71acd77cb75d4cbc628bdce114 

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