Browne’s debut starring his real-life pit bull (Marlo, 2017) featured the canine’s underwater fantasy; this sequel sends the pooch back in time.
The tale opens with the dog snoozing next to a grouping of houseplants. He snuggles a toy dinosaur. Two sentences launch the rest of the story, told almost entirely in pictures: “Marlo awoke from his afternoon nap to a very strange sight. / He decided to investigate.” Looking across the gutter, he spies a small, winged creature carrying a bundle of twigs and disappearing into a newly sprouted living-room forest. A note on the copyright page had asked readers to help Marlo find both that animal and two tiny green beings. This hunt provides the motivation for and much of the fun in moving forward. Browne is adept at building surprises into his pen, watercolor, and digitally colored compositions. Varying perspectives display a vibrant world with fanciful trees and magenta or lavender beasts sporting decorative patterns. The going is calm among the herbivores, but the pace picks up when a gigantic carnivore appears, first seen only as a giant foot—its owner clearly towers over Marlo and the other dinos. The protagonist clings to a swift runner during the resultant stampede. When calm returns, the new friends use sticks gathered by the tiny green animals to build a rocket that propels Marlo home, where his last, bemused gaze is at readers from behind a fern.
Entertaining in premise and execution, this is certain to inspire play among the pots. (Picture books. 3-6)