Written by Mike Gibbie, Illustrated by Barbara Nascimbeni
Dutton Children’s Books, 1999
Small Brown Dog was having a really bad remembering day. He couldn’t remember which side to get out of bed. He couldn’t remember what he liked for breakfast. Worst of all, he couldn’t remember his name!
The plot in a nutshell: A forgetful dog loses his collar and questions his friends in an attempt to find it and remember his name.
Here’s another book that is more than meets the eye. The plot really is as simple as the sentence above – that’s all that happens in the book. But what you’ll see outside of that depends on your point of view. Dog lovers will enjoy the fact that Small Brown Dog’s friends are all different breeds, going about their anthropomorphic lives, doing their jobs (the poodle is a beautician) and enjoying their leisure activities. Kids will enjoy trying to spot the little blue mouse that shows up on many of the pages.
As Small Brown Dog talks to his friends, they each shed a little light on his character. Instead of telling him his name, they tell him something about himself. As he is reminded of each fact, it becomes real to him, so he doesn’t actually feel itchy until someone reminds him that he has fleas. I think that’s a lovely and subtle way to convey the power of words. Of course, at the end of the book, he finds his collar. But he has already remembered his name, because his friends have given him back his sense of self.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that who you truly are can always be found in those around you.