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Peguin Young Readers Group
"Otis and the Puppy" is by Loren Long. He will be at the King's English for a book signing on March 25.

OTIS AND THE PUPPY,” by Loren Long, Philomel, $17.99 (ages 4-6)

Every farm needs a helpful tractor like Otis. In the spring, he helps in the fields, plowing and planting crops.

All farm animals need a friendly tractor like Otis that can play hide-and-seek at the end of the workday. “Otis loved to be 'it' counting one-putt, two-putt, three-putted four chuff …” before looking for his animal friends.

When a new puppy arrives at the farm, Otis is the first to comfort the new friend. But Puppy, not knowing the rules of the game (“and with something else on his mind”), wanders away, becoming frightened and alone in the dark. Otis, although frightened himself of the dark, knows what to do. Of course there’s a hero’s welcome!

Fans of Otis know about his goggly-headlamp-eyed charm and will look for clues in the gauche and pencil drawings that provide mood to each scene. Most affective are the nighttime black two-page spreads with only a sliver of light from the barn and a tiny puff from Otis’s headlight that young audiences will appreciate. Children know the power of the tiniest of light in the dark.

In other scenes, Long masterfully uses varying illustration sizes to celebrate Otis’s success finding Puppy. In one very small centered picture, framed with oversized white borders, Puppy’s tail is shown poking out of a hollow log. The next larger illustration shows Puppy’s appreciative kiss on Otis’s nose and finally in a two-page spread the dark forest becomes a less fearful place for the two friends with Otis’s headlight leading the way home.

“Otis and the Puppy” is a wonderful bedtime read-aloud story with Puppy’s wobbling and tumbling about and Otis’s “Putt Puff Puttedy –zzzZZZZ” at just the right places.

Other Otis books are “Otis,” “Otis and the Tornado” and “Otis Loves to Play.”

If you go ...

What: Loren Long reading and book signing

When: Monday, March 25, 4 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Note: Signing line tickets will be distributed to those who purchase "Otis and the Puppy" from The King's English Bookshop. Those customers are also allowed to bring up to two books from home through the signing line. General admission to the event is free.

Email: marilousorensen@ymail.com