The Little Brown Animal by DiMari Bailey is the first book in a series, Tales of the Deep Forest, and, I assume, meant to set the stage for the other books. The tale is very simple. A small dog-like one-of-a-kind animal feels he is ugly so he hides from the other animals in the forest. He finds comfort in the surrounding nature which speaks to him, sharing its secret legends. His happiness from this experience gives him the courage to share these stories with the other animals. Eventually he ages and dies, returning as one of the creatures from his tales, The Golden Griffin – a favorite of his listeners and the title for the next book.
Who is the audience for this book? It is not a very compelling story. The simple illustrations by R Brit Bailey are almost crude in their construction. The little brown animal actually is kind of ugly and not very endearing to the reader. Plus his dissatisfaction with life and envy of the other animals ar R Brit Baileue not characteristics to be exemplified. The text Is too difficult for a young child to read so it would have to be a read aloud, yet the vocabulary requires a bit of illumination. Parents would have to define dryads, sylphs, centaurs, satyrs, and naiads, that is if they have readily available information about these mythological creatures. I assume future books will address each of these topics, but they are all thrown at the listener without explanation in this book. Unfortunately, the illustrations are no help either, since they often don’t seem to correspond to the text.
Parents could modify the story as they read it to their children, but that defeats the purpose of a picture book. Perhaps the Golden Griffin is a better volume to start with in this series. My advice to the author is to identify the reader, modify the text, and make sure the art work actually reflects the plot of the story. The Little Brown Animal is a failure on so many levels, but I have hopes that the author’s future efforts will be more successful . One star.
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I also posted this review on Goodreads.