Perfect Picture Books: Otis And The Tornado

One afternoon in the library, a book on the shelf to my left caught my eye. The mostly black and white (cepia maybe?) drawings of a farm with an adorable little red tractor made me stop. I thought, "Oh, it's Otis. I'll check that out." But, to my happy surprise, it was actually Otis and the Tornado. We checked it out and read the story several times. I love the illustrations and the way Otis pops off the page in his red against the more neutral background colors of each sketch. It's a great follow up to the original story of Otis which has previously been featured on Susanna Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday series. Enjoy!

Title: Otis and the Tornado
Written and Illustrated by: Loren Long
Publisher: Philomel Books, 2011
Suitable for: Preschool to age 8.
Themes/Topics: Storms, unfriendly animals,farms, helping others, making friends, bravery
Opening: Life was calm on the farm where the friendly little tractor named Otis lived. It was summer. The sun shined bright, the birds chirped, and after all the work was done, Otis and his friend the little calf liked to play. The story continues on to where the reader meets the unfriendly bull and because he is unfriendly, the animals don't play with him. But, when a tornado hits the farm, Otis helps his friends and is ready to wait out the storm when he hears the very sad sound of a scared bull.
Brief Synopsis: From the publisher: When a tornado threatens the farm, Otis the tractor must try to save the animals, including the unfriendly bull.
Links to resources: Loren Long has his own page of activities which includes drawing, matching, and mazes. Additionally, as we read through the story, I asked my son about tornadoes and wind and we talked about the pictures and how strong wind can be and the damage it can cause. We also talked about the farm animals and what they needed to do to be safe during a storm. It was a great conversation-inspiring story.
Why I chose this book: I was immediately drawn to the illustrations. As we read through the story, Otis and his innate senses of having fun and helping others comes through in almost every page. His bravery is admirable and to be honest, I'd love to know the bull's back-story. Why is he so angry and unfriendly?


  1. I like tractors! Otis sounds pretty cool, what a brave tractor!

  2. Otis is awesome! This book is such a sweet story. And the art is SOOOOO FUN AND LIVELY! Love, love, love it! Thanks for featuring it. :-)

  3. The first Otis book was wonderful, I can't wait to have a peek at the second one! Great resources, too.

  4. I saw this book, but didn't have time to read it. I really am glad you shared this. I love that the story is told from the viewpoint of the tractor. Great review.

  5. Love this cute story! Otis's face is priceless and I can imagine what the other illustrations are like.... Great book for boys.

  6. Hi Tracy, I didn't know about the Otis series, so this is definitely something I should check out when I go to our libraries. I also have a thing for black and white/sepia toned illustrations - with dramatic splashes every now and again. Sounds like my kind of book!

  7. What a sweet story. We don't get tornadoes around here, but if you live in an area that does, I would think it would be a great conversation starter to help kids deal with fears.
    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers

  8. My boys will love this one. Thanks so much Tracy.

  9. We have this book, and I agree it's fabulous!

  10. This is a wonderful book. Thanks for adding it to the list.


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