Thursday, September 9, 2010

Two New Picture Books to Consider

I just came across two new picture books that are worth taking a look at.


Written and Illustrated by: Loren Long
Recommended Ages: 4-8

Otis is a visual delight. The illustrations have a delightful old-fashioned feel to them that immediately draw you in. The story is about Otis, a little tractor who works hard on the farm by day, and plays equally hard after work. One evening the farmer brings a new baby calf into the barn. The calf is homesick for her mother, but the gentle putt puff sounds coming from Otis lull the calf to sleep. Otis and the calf soon become fast friends, as they play and just sit together under the apple tree (this particular illustration reminded me of Ferdinand).

Soon a big, shiny, new tractor is introduced and Otis is forgotten. I won't go into the whole story of how Otis re-emerges from his exile, but it's a sweet story of determination, friendship and love. Plus there's just the right amount of action on each page to keep even a young child interested.

If you have a child who is fascinated by heavy equipment (my oldest son went through this stage), then you will love Otis. But I think all kids will love Otis's story about an unlikely friendship. The artwork gives it a timeless feel, and the expressions on Otis's face are priceless. This is a story that should emerge as a classic.

City Dog, Country Frog

Written by: Mo Willems
Illustrated by: John Muth
Recommended Ages: 4-8

City Dog, Country Frog
is another book about friendship. City Dog arrives in the country for the first time in the spring. While out running the countryside (without a leash!), City Dog meets Country Frog. The two start playing together, as Country Frog teaches City Dog all sorts of Country Frog games like jumping, splashing and croaking. And that's the way they spend the spring.

The book moves through the seasons, and their friendship deepens. They each teach the other special tricks, and sometimes they just sit together on their rock. The watercolor illustrations do a wonderful job depicting the passage of time. Winter comes and City Dog goes looking for Country Frog, only to find him not on his rock. There's a beautiful two-page spread of City Dog sitting forlornly on the rock overlooking the snow-covered field. I will warn you, it is sad and you should probably be prepared for some questions from your child. But when spring rolls around again, and City Dog is sitting on the rock "waiting for a friend," he meets Country Chipmunk. The story ends on a hopeful note and offers a nice reflection of remembering old friends while making new ones.

So there you have it. Two new picture books about friendship that are definitely worth checking out. Both books would make wonderful gifts for a pre-schooler.

BookNosher Activities: Loren Long has a page of activities tied into Otis.

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