Little Brown (Marla Frazee)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Brown by Marla Frazee, the tale of a very cranky dog.

Little Brown is very cranky. The other dogs don’t play with him – he’s not sure if he’s cranky because they don’t to play, or if they don’t want to play because he’s cranky. Instead, he watches the other dogs from a corner of their chain-link enclosure (a dog park? Doggie daycare? Animal shelter?) – the big dogs chase balls, the small dog run in circles, the old dogs nap, and the young ones play in the mud. Little Brown is sure he could do any of these things, but no one asks him to. That is, until a start ball rolls his way…

So, I was really thinking that this was going to be a story about making friends – the setup certainly seems to indicate so. But the plot took a rather unexpected twist: Little Brown steals the ball. Then he steals all the other toys, blankets, beds, and even a rock, piling them into a mountain and sitting atop the spoils, keeping the other dogs from using them. This leads to a stalemate, where the other dogs stare and wonder if they should play with Little Brown to get the toys back – or will that make them cranky too? – and Little Brown wonders if he should give the goods back or not to make the others like him. Then, abruptly, the dogs are called inside, nothing is resolved, and the story indicates that this will all happen again tomorrow? Um.. what? Was that a kids’ story? What’s the lesson? Where was the fun? I can usually understand if a picture book lacks one or the other, but both? The length was fine, and art is very cute, with adorably charismatic dogs of all shapes and sizes, but it certainly doesn’t save the confusing, unsatisfying, and somewhat pointless storyline. Even JJ seemed pretty puzzled. Quite weird, and not for us.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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