Otis and the Scarecrow is the fifth hardcover picture book about Otis the tractor.
This particular Otis story (Otis and the Scarecrow) speaks to the simple ability of a person (or in this case a tractor) to step outside of themselves enough to think about the emotions of someone else. Otis sees that something is not right in the scarecrow and he is willing to stand up and do something about it. This might be the most important act of all for this intrepid little tractor.
When I first wrote and illustrated Otis (Philomel, 2009), I never planned on making any more books about the same character. But something about Otis moved me in a way that took me back to my own childhood on the lap of my mother reading to me at afternoon nap time and bedtime. I believed in the authentic goodness of the character and was compelled to tell more stories about him.
As an artist, this has challenged me to continue the consistent spirit and essence of the character and the world he lives in throughout many different changing stories, situations and seasons.
It's been a gift to me, really.
I want the children to feel the art, not simply look at it. And it has been very gratifying to meet a young audience who know and feel Otis the tractor as well as I do.
Never count Otis out.
Watch Loren Long paint and talk about how he created Otis the Tractor.