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Otis is Back and Puppy’s Got Him!

9780399254697HOtis And The Puppy ($17.99, Philomel, ages 3-7), by #1 New York Times Bestselling author/illustrator Loren Long, is going to win a lot of new fans who were not previously familiar with the engaging red farm tractor. The seeds of popularity were sown with two previous titles, Otis and Otis And The Tornado so it’s wonderful for children to have a new addition to this vibrant, lovingly rendered series.

After reading Otis And The Puppy I am fondly reminded of Benedict Blathwayt’s Little Red Train books featuring Duffy Driver. At age five, my son was obsessed with these tales of an anthropomorphic train whose exploits were both entertaining and upbeat. While Long’s artwork with its retro look is certainly different than Blathwayt’s, the themes the stories explore – friendship, loyalty, and perseverance – are the same which is why they resonate with readers.

With Otis books children not only get a benevolent tractor character but a whole bunch of other friendly farm animals to boot. We’re instantly drawn into the story with Otis playing hide-and-seek with his pals after the workday has ended. He discovers them in the most humorous positions guaranteed to get lots of giggles! But what happens one evening when the farmer introduces a new member to the group? A precious, affectionate puppy is welcomed by all. The trouble is that he’s put in a dog house on his own, away from his new friends, and he’s also afraid of the dark. Otis hears him whimpering and brings him into the barn so he can curl up and fall asleep in the comfort of the tractor’s seat.

One day during another round of hide-and-seek, the puppy wanders off into the woods as he follows a butterfly.  It soon gets dark and no one can find the puppy, not even the farmer.  Although the search is called off until morning, Otis feels he must fight his own fears and foray into the dark forest to find his friend. Of course, despite the darkness and nighttime noises all around, a determined red tractor is not going to give up.  It sure helps to have some headlights!  Otis counts … “one-putt, two-puff, three-puttedy four chuff” and is delighted when he tracks down his puppy pal.  And so are the readers who will feel empowered by Otis’s tale of courage and caring. What a beautiful way to end a busy child’s day – with thoughts of Otis and Puppy dashing around happily in their heads.

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel.

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Dogs Love Books, Too!

Today Debbie Glade reviews a book for children and their pups.

As an author who has visited many schools and libraries, I have encountered the wonderful world of Reading Dogs. “What’s that?” you say. Well, a Reading Dog is a specially trained service canine that sits and listens as a young child reads him a book. It has been proven that children who are hesitant to read aloud or who are struggling with reading at the proper level, improve their literacy skills when they read aloud to a Reading Dog. It is really quite a special sight to see a child sitting on the floor alongside a gentle pup, that is listening to the story and not getting frustrated with any mistakes the child is making. Many schools and libraries offer this service, if you are interested.

The Bedtime Book for Dogs ($15.99, Hachette Book Group, Ages 4 and up) by Bruce Littlefield is a perfect story for a young child to read to a dog. The story is about an unnamed dog who takes a walk to the park without his owner, only to discover that it is not much fun to be in the park all alone. The prose in the book are very basic, the illustrations by Paul S. Heath are vibrant and the story is adorable. All children who love dogs or have one of their own, would surely enjoy reading The Bedtime Book for Dogs – just before they go to sleep, of course.

You can preview the book online by clicking here.

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