"All at once the wind stopped blowing, not even a breeze, and the wind disappeared. The sky turned a strange shade of green and the farm fell completely still. The only sound Otis heard as he putt puffed toward the barn was the farmer shouting in the distance.
"'It's coming fast, get down in the cellar!'"
I've been through swarms of blizzards and multitudes of blackouts. I've experienced historic hurricanes on eastern Long Island and historic earthquakes in California. I've survived floods and fires and freezes. I've even recovered from stepping in a yellow jacket nest and from sleeping in a bed of poison ivy.
But I have never been anywhere near a tornado.
"The farmer was in such a hurry that he had no time for the animals. What was all the fuss about? Otis wondered. Then he turned and saw something that rattled his frame and shook his fenders...
In OTIS AND THE TORNADO Otis hustles his fenders to save all of his animal friends who are locked in the doomed barn. But as they are on their way to safety, Otis turns around and goes back to save the bull who lives by himself, has big, sharp horns, and has been very unfriendly to Otis and the other animals. Together, all of the animals then proceed to curl up "tucked down in the muddy creek's bed at the lowest part of the farm."
You absolutely cannot miss the two-page spread of the animals all huddled together around Otis as trees and tires and debris fly by overhead.
The tornado is the exciting part of the tale. But the part I love -- the heroic part -- is the story of Otis and the bull. It makes me think of how, in THE MISFITS by James Howe, we learn that back when they were little kids everyone would steer clear of Skeezie because he was prone to cutting off a chunk of someone's hair or sticking globs of paste in your underwear. But when Addie befriends him, he maintains some of his cool facade but becomes a really great guy.
Similarly, we see that after Otis treats the bull as a friend, the bull still snorts and stomps his hooves in the dirt. But he's wearing a happy grin as he does it and he's now one of the gang.
Otis is my kind of tractor.
Reviewed by: Richie Partington, Librarian, California, USA