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BE BROWN! by Barbara Bottner

BE BROWN!

By Barbara Bottner (Author) , Barry Gott (Illustrator)

Age Range: 2 - 5

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-23775-5
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Bottner’s simple tale concerns a young boy with a need to control. A high-maintenance brown pooch is the object of his bossing, a pooch that has perfected the art of selective hearing. Giving one command per page—sit, stay, fetch, come, off—the boy might as well be shouting orders to a sack of hammers. His exasperation is growing, his cheeks are mantling in crimson, his hair is about to launch itself from his scalp, when he realizes that the dog will listen to the right command: “Be Brown!” The dog complies and the boy gets to say, “Good dog.” For a story with a total of fewer than two dozen words, Bottner’s is nicely communicative about the absence of communication, and the absurd ending bevels the harshness of all the yelling and scolding. Gott’s (Patches, Lost and Found, p. 111) artwork, though vivid, is overly polished and the elements within each picture feel disconnected, much like the boy and the dog, as if layered rather than integrated. Still, as a first outing for a new reader, this commands attention. (Picture book. 2-5)