Saturday, November 10, 2018

Review: Little Brown by Marla Frazee

by Marla Frazee
Beach Lane Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 0 to 8

A grumpy and lonely little dog at the dog park decides to take matters into his own paws.

Little Brown is one cranky canine because no one ever plays with him at the dog park. Or maybe no one ever plays with him because he is cranky. Either way, Little Brown decides today is the day to take action, so he takes all of the toys and sticks and blankets from all of the dogs at the park and won’t give them back. But what will happen now?


This is the sweetest, cranky doggy with a very difficult dilemma.

Little Brown is a cranky dog and none of the other dogs want to play with him. Whether it is because he is cranky, or whether he's become cranky since none of the other dogs play with him is something none of them can remember. He watches them play and wishes he could have fun too...if they would play with him. One day, when a ball rolls by, Little Brown has an idea.

The story touches the heart. Little Brown is cranky, but the circumstances surrounding his crankiness make him easy to identify with. It's hard not to wish that he'd find a friend to play with...or that the other dogs would give him a chance. It's the kind of character which immediately draws the reader in. The text flows nicely, and although some words might be a little difficult for the intended audience, it's a great way to expand the vocabulary.

The illustrations are well done and show as much emotion as the story itself. The dark, dreary colors add the perfect atmosphere, yet still allow the sweetness of the dogs to shine through. It's fun to see each dog with their own personality and watch how they interact...something kids will enjoy flipping through on their own.

The only thing which made me hesitate on this book is the ending. It's a cliff-hanger—one without any closure. The dogs face an important dilemma, one with a very important message, and it's dropped there. While this does open up for discussion and can be seen as a great way to launch kids into an exploration of how they would handle the situation, it doesn't work as a picture book for a normal story time or bedtime read...and this is something readers/parents/guardians should be aware of before purchasing the book. If you are open to using this as a launch pad to discussion (which is also a great thing), then this is a very lovely read and wonderfully done.

And here she is...
Marla Frazee was awarded a Caldecott Honor for All the World and A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Picture Book for her wordless book The Farmer and the Clown. She is the author-illustrator of many books, including The Boss Baby, the book that inspired the DreamWorks Animation film Boss Baby. She has also illustrated many acclaimed picture books, including God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant and the New York Times bestselling Clementine chapter book series by Sara Pennypacker. She lives in Pasadena, California. Visit her at

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