Russell Hoban's The Little Brute Family
illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Book review by Dimitrios Sokolakis
Always look on the bright side of life
Are you feeling grumpy? Is everything going wrong and you can’t find joy? Do you find yourself complaining about everything affecting you and yours? If so, this book is the perfect family antidote.
The Little Brute Family is a simple story (a Level 2 Reader) about how you can stop being pessimistic by just doing some simple things: smile, say “thank you” and “how lovely,” and identify beauty in small, seemingly insignificant, things.
In the middle of a dark and shadowy woods lives the Brute family: Papa Brute, Mama Brute, Brother and Sister Brute and Baby Brute. They are all quite miserable, both alone and with each other, even the Baby Brute.
They eat a breakfast of sand and gravel porridge everyday; they never say “thank you” or “how delicious” (I wonder why? sand and gravel are so yummy).
Brother and Sister Brute are used to kicking each other, Mama and Papa are always grumpy and everything they do seems a boring, monotonous routine to them. Papa goes to the woods to gather sticks and stones and Mama stays back at the house doing the housework and scolding the baby while the elder ones go to school for "exercise": by kicking, pinching, punching etc.
Grumpiness is pretty much the sole characteristic of the Brute Family in all times and all seasons and it is expressed with yells, screams and growls. Until one day, the purest one, Baby Brute finds beauty in a pile of daisies, by finding a "good feeling" that was lost. Baby Brute puts the lost good feeling in his tiny pocket.
What is a lost good feeling? Let's not overthink it. Just know that it changes the Brute family cosmotheory changes radically.
Everyone in the family starts being nice to each other when the lost good feeling makes an appearance. They start to say “how lovely” and “how delightful” and smile. Papa Brute gathers wild berries, salad greens and honey for supper instead of sticks and stones; they all say “how delicious” because it’s actually delicious. Everything they do now seems stimulating and fun.
The little good feeling stays and stays and never goes away, and the Brute family becomes widely known as the Nice family!
The Little Brute Family strengths:
Lovely, funny, well designed and a great message that will reach young readers. What else can you ask for? A single word characterizes the book: Perfect!
Extra credit (if there can be extra when saying something is perfect): Mama Brute’s beehive hairdo is priceless.
Room for improvement:
You've got to be kidding me; the book is classic, a must read for all, especially the grumpy ones.
The Little Brute Family: Never forget that you can find joy in most simple things; this story is a great reminder!
Read more of Dimitrios's reviews.
Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.