From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Otis is back, this time anticipating Christmas and the birth of a new foal. To add to his excitement, he receives a new horn, his first Christmas present ever. His joy is short-lived, however, when, in the middle of a snowy night, he overhears that the mare is sick: "We need Doc Baker out here tonight or we'll lose 'em both!" When the farmhand sent to get Doc plunges into a snowdrift during the raging storm, Otis, as always, comes to the rescue, setting out "with snow up to his chin." He gets lost in the woods only to discover that he is perched on the precipice of a hill. Bravely heading down a steep, slippery branch, he reaches the doctor's house, alerts him with his horn, and brings him back to save the day. The grayish-blue hues that predominate in Long's lovely, large-framed illustrations create a sense of cold stillness. Executed in gouache and pencil, they depict the red tractor in sharp contrast to countryside and woods blanketed in deep snow. There are few surprises here, and the tree branch jutting from the hill seems forced. Traveling down the branch leads Otis a bit too conveniently almost to Doc Baker's door. Otis's fans may turn to this one, but it is an additional purchase.-Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journal. LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Otis the tractor returns in a Christmas story of courage and friendship set during a terrible snowstorm at the farm. When the mare’s labor becomes difficult on Christmas Eve, a vet is needed—but the truck is stuck in a snowdrift. Otis makes a brave decision: he’ll get Doc. Plowing through the woods on a rescue mission, he finds himself on a difficult path. Long’s text conveys not just the danger, treacherous, slippery, but also Otis’ effort, putt puff puttedy chuff. But how will he wake Doc in the middle of the night? The farmer’s Christmas gift, a shiny new horn, will do the trick. The illustrations wonderfully enhance the story, from the joy of the animals prancing around the Christmas tree to Otis’ expressive response to the events around him: pride in his gift, concern for his friend, determination to arrive at his destination. Highlighting the always changing perspective, aerial scenes give readers a sense of the big, snowy picture, and close-ups show the farmer’s concern. Long’s palette reflects the coldness and heaviness of the snow, and then lightness as the farmer prays for a miracle. The view into the barn door, once all is well, is reminiscent of another barn birth, and the text reads, Well, would you look at that! That sums things up nicely. Preschool-Grade 1. --Edie Ching