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Skinny Brown Dog

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A charming story about an unlikely friendship by National Book Award-winning author Kimberly Willis Holt

Benny the baker leads a simple life. He makes delicious cakes, cookies and muffins, and keeps his customers well fed and happy. When a skinny brown dog shows up on Benny's doorstep, nothing Benny says can convince him to go away. While Benny insists that the dog isn't his, customers soon grow as fond of the skinny brown dog as they are of ...

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A charming story about an unlikely friendship by National Book Award-winning author Kimberly Willis Holt

Benny the baker leads a simple life. He makes delicious cakes, cookies and muffins, and keeps his customers well fed and happy. When a skinny brown dog shows up on Benny's doorstep, nothing Benny says can convince him to go away. While Benny insists that the dog isn't his, customers soon grow as fond of the skinny brown dog as they are of Benny's yummy treats. The children even name him Brownie—the perfect name for a baker's dog.

Benny starts to wonder what it might be like to have a dog of his own. But it's not until Brownie comes to his rescue that Benny realizes a dog can make a very good friend. Full of winning characters (and delicious treats!), this book celebrates a very special friendship.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A tasty treat for reading aloud that should get a rave reception."

Kirkus Reviews


"A well-crafted picture book that children will appreciate."

School Library Journal


"Irresistible canine charms, and Saaf's pictures, in equal parts clever and sweet (but never saccharine), ... will deservedly earn children's appreciation here."


Publishers Weekly

Despite its appealing cover and pedigree, this story about a skinny brown dog who finds a home contains stiff paintings that effectively distance the reader from an otherwise gentle narrative. Saaf's (Hello, Hello) mixed-media paintings are not without charm, but his animal characters often seem to be placed atop their surroundings rather than being part of them. Benny the Baker, a lean polar bear, is convinced that he has no need for a pet ("Sorry, but a bakery isn't any place for a dog"). Still, Brownie makes himself indispensable: he retrieves Miss Patterson's dropped purse, does tricks for the children on "free broken cookie day" and brings help when Benny falls off a ladder and breaks his leg. While recovering from his injury, Benny finds that he's grown accustomed to Brownie's face, with its eyes as "dark as chocolate chips," and when a group of children visit him in the hospital, Benny concedes, "I miss the bakery. Especially Brownie." The sizes of Saaf's characters are not consistently rendered and the choice of making all the characters animals is perplexing-why is Brownie a pet when other animals are not? Holt's (When Zachary Taylor Came to Town) most animated and appealing character is the titular canine who sports an old-fashioned brown suit and a black derby hat, which he doffs most fetchingly. Ages 4-7. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Sara Lorimer
Benny runs a bakery on Harmony Street. He has his regular customers: Miss Patterson comes by every day for a raspberry muffin, schoolchildren walk by routinely hoping for free broken cookies. One day a skinny brown dog saunters into the bakery. Benny tells him dogs are not allowed in the bakery but gives him some warm bread and a bowl of fresh water. That evening the dog is waiting for Benny when he gets off work, but Benny shoos him away: "Hate to break the news to you, fella, but you are not my dog." This happens again over several days, with Benny denying to all his customers that the dog who has come to be a fixture outside the bakery, playing with the children and now named Brownie, is his. One day Benny falls off a ladder at work and breaks his leg. Brownie runs for help. While Benny is in the hospital, the regulars come to visit him. Miss Patterson tells him she misses the muffins, the children tell him they miss the broken cookies, and Bennie tells them he misses Brownie. When Bennie gets out of the hospital and goes home, he brings Brownie with him. The book ends with them together by the fire. The illustrations are charming but if one thinks about them too long, they are a bit disturbing. By portraying all the characters as animals, the illustrator runs into the why-does-Mickey-Mouse-have-both-a-talking-dog-friend-and-a-pet-dog, problem. Benny is a polar bear, Miss Patterson is an elephant, and the children are illustrated as a squirrel, a bird, and a hedgehog. They all are clothed and anthropomorphic. Benny, on the other hand, is just a dog. In a suit. It is all a bit confusing—to adults at any rate. Children are much better at accepting things like this. And good forthem, because it is an enjoyable book.
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3
Benny the polar bear has a bakery. Once a week he puts up a sign that says, "Free Broken Cookies Day" and the "children"-a squirrel, a hedgehog, and a bird-love to stop for a treat. One day a bowler-wearing "skinny brown dog" with white markings enters the shop. Benny immediately tells him that "dogs aren't allowed in my bakery" but gives him some food. The illustrations, which vary in size, show a pup who oozes personality as he politely removes his hat before returning a dropped purse to Mrs. Patterson the elephant. When she compliments the baker on his smart dog, Benny replies, "He's not my dog," and she winks knowingly at Brownie as he hangs out outside the bakery. Sure enough, Benny begins to imagine Brownie lying by the fireplace in his home. Acrylic paint, gouache, watercolors, and color pencil in somewhat muted tones give a realistic, weather-beaten look to buildings, and expressive faces and postures bring the characters to life. The polar bear is wearing a white chef's hat and coat, yet the white shades are distinctive, and the animals' clothing is patterned and colorful. At the end of the story, a new sign is posted proclaiming "everyone welcome." This is a well-crafted picture book that children will appreciate; they are most likely to pick up on the theme of exclusion and enjoy the humorous details and happy ending.
—Kirsten CutlerCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
After a scrawny stray wanders into his bakery, Benny the polar bear lures the well-dressed dog out with a piece of bread and the words, "A bakery isn't anyplace for a dog." But the aptly named Brownie continues to hang around, and the reticent Benny continues to feed him. It isn't until Benny falls and breaks his leg and Brownie is refused admittance to the hospital ("A hospital is no place for a dog") that the baker opens his heart and home to the heroic pet. Holt's unassuming text is nicely structured and paced as she presents Benny's reassuring routine and customers, including the menagerie of school children that embrace "Free Broken Cookie Day." With varied placement, Saaf's complementary, naive-tinged illustrations will engage readers with color, texture, pattern and the friendly expression of emotions. A tasty treat for reading aloud that should get a rave reception. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805075878
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 6/12/2007
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 946,775
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.82 (w) x 11.33 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Kimberly Willis Holt is the author of the Piper Reed series, including Piper Reed, Navy Brat, Piper Reed, Clubhouse Queen, and Piper Reed, Rodeo Star. She has written many award-winning novels, including The Water Seeker and My Louisiana Sky, as well as the picture books Waiting for Gregory and Skinny Brown Dog. Holt was born in Pensacola, Florida, and lived all over the U.S. and the world—from Paris to Norfolk to Guam to New Orleans. She long dreamed of being a writer, but first worked as a radio news director, marketed a water park, and was an interior decorator, among other jobs. A few years after she started writing, her third book, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, won a National Book Award for Young People's Literature. She resides in West Texas with her family.


Donald Saaf has illustrated many picture books, including Pushkin Minds the Bundle, The Easter Bunny that Overslept and Wee G. He lives in Saxtons River, Vermont.

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Customer Reviews

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