Thursday, November 21, 2013

An Otis Christmas by Loren Long

An Otis Christmas by Loren Long

Rating: 5 stars

We are fans of Otis.  We first met him in 2010 in Otis, then continued to fall in love with him in Otis and the Tornado and Otis and the Puppy.  There is even a board book and a stuffed animal available now!  He is a fantastic character; in fact, he's a character with character: a hard worker on his beloved farm, an enthusiastic player of all types of games, and the type of friend who looks out for the little guy, tries to include everyone, and genuinely cares.

So I was pretty psyched to see An Otis Christmas!

I'll warn you, I'm a little biased because Loren Long is one of my favorite illustrators AND...well...see that little foal on the cover?  I'm a sucker for all things horses.  When I was a horse-obsessed, riding-hours-every-afternoon girl, my cure for the uncurable giggles (in Church or in class) was to think of my horse, sick.  It would sober me up immediately.

Loren Long's beautiful illustrations swept me in immediately.  Otis is excited about his favorite time of year: Christmas!  This year, the excitement is bigger than ever because the mare is going to have a baby foal soon.  And this year, he gets something he's not ever received before...a gift!  It's a brand new horn.

"A special tractor needs a special horn," says his beloved farmer.

On Christmas Eve, a painful cry and troubled voices wake up Otis' putt puff puttedy chuff.  The mare is giving birth, but she's in trouble.  (As I saw the mare lying on her side painfully with the farmer and his son looking concerned over her, tears came to my eyes.  At a book!  Geez.  Yes, I cry at Hallmark commercials, too.)

Something was wrong.
Something was very wrong.
"We need Doc Baker out here tonight or we'll lose them both!" whispers the farmer.

But there's a blizzard outside.  One of the farmer's helpers already failed to make it down the hill from the farm because of the snow.  Yet, Otis does what he needs to do.  He goes out in the cold, chugs through the snowdrifts, calms himself when he gets lost, and finds the vet's house.  He uses his new horn to wake up the vet, who knows immediately that something is wrong.  They zoom back through the drifts and the night.

"The farmer prayed for a miracle.  All was quiet, until..."

Otis' horn cracks through the stillness and the sadness, and he brings Doc Baker to the horse and her unborn baby.  As that baby is born, with a star on its forehead, the whole farm stands around in wonder and appreciation.  Of a miracle.

This is a great Christmas book--one of the best from 2013 I think.

I love how Otis doesn't just stand by.  He does something.  This resonates clearly with me, an action-based person.  And he does something courageous, dangerous, and necessary--not because someone tells him to, but because he knows in his heart that it's the right thing to do.

See?  I told you he was a good character.

Bravo, Loren Long!  This is another great one.

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