A cranky dog faces the consequences of his crankiness in this picture book.
Author/illustrator Frazee’s pencil and gouache illustrations show a cranky, scowling brown dog—Little Brown—sitting alone against the chain-link fence of a bare-bones dog park. The hand-lettered text is a subtle touch, infusing a friendly warmth into the physical look of the words, and the illustrations are done in a warm, muted palette, and readers may subconsciously begin to hope that with all this visual warmth, Little Brown will find playmates at last. It’s not that he doesn’t have plenty of opportunity—there are many other dogs in the park. So when a ball rolls his way and Little Brown grabs it, this looks like the beginning of the end of Little Brown’s isolation and crankiness. But he then decides to grab the other toys, and in a jiffy, he’s collected a whole pile and stands on top of them, like a dragon hoarding treasure. Now there is a “dilemma.” The dogs wonder if they should play with Little Brown in order to get their toys back (or would that make them cranky too?), and Little Brown wonders if he gives it all back, will they play with him, and what if they don’t? Weirdly, this dilemma remains unresolved, leaving readers to continue the pondering: It becomes time to go and “maybe tomorrow / they would know what to do.”
A promising start dissolves to an undetermined, unsatisfying conclusion. (Picture book. 4-8)