Otis and the Kittens

illus. by Loren Long. 40p. Philomel. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399163982.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—Longtime fans and newbies alike will enjoy Otis the tractor's latest adventure. It's a particularly hot and dry summer in the valley. Otis and his animal friends work hard on the farm, but they still have time for their favorite game, tug-of-war. Their tugging skills save the day when Otis is trapped in a burning barn while rescuing a litter of helpless, big-eyed kittens. As always, perseverance, teamwork, and a heart of gold pay off for Otis and his friends. When read aloud, the text flows off the tongue with sounds ("putt puff putted chuff") and words ("The floor collapsed and Otis plunged to the darkness below") that extend the imagery created in the attractive gouache and pencil illustrations. The compositions make great use of perspective and motion and are expertly laid out to pull the eye to the important characters and action. The painterly images use a nostalgic palette of grays, creamy yellows, rusty oranges, and Otis's signature tractor red. There are wonderful textured details (scratchy straw, smooth chrome) that bring the story to life.
VERDICT This first purchase is the perfect lapsit read-aloud, combining the ever-popular subjects of tractors, farm animals, and firefighters.

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