Marley Goes to School



Kids will giggle at silly dog tale; some confusing messages.

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
Positive messages

Marley is trying to track down his best friend, whom he misses.

Positive role models

The adults pursuing Marley come off as mean; kids lie to their teacher; Marley is lightly reprimanded but otherwise his antics are laughed off.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know the loyal Marley disobeys the rules because he wants to find his friend. When a teacher warns that a “wild animal” is on the loose in the school and asks if anyone has seen him, the students lie and disguise Marley. Adults chasing after Marley are surprisingly impatient and angry, though the ending is lighthearted.

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

When Cassie starts school, loyal family dog Marley escapes from the back yard and follows her to school -- and chaos ensues. Well-intentioned Marley just wants to find his best friend, but he can’t help but find trouble. Distracted by a tray of hot dogs in the cafeteria, a ball in gym class, and other temptations, he’s pursued by a host of angry teachers and school workers.

Is it any good?


Just like the kids in the book, most young readers will laugh at Marley’s misadventures and delight in his surprising presence in the school. Marley bounds from page to page, tongue hanging out, eagerly searching for his playmate. But the story is played for slapstick humor and nothing more: For all the “bad dog!” scolding you get the sense that Marley just might repeat the performance day after day.

The portrayal of adults is disappointing for this age group. Grown-ups overreact to the dog’s mischief and look downright mean as they try to catch Marley. But in the end, they quickly dismiss Marley’s misbehavior and cheer him. The inconsistency sends a confusing message.

Energetic and lively, but many of the adults look disconcertingly angry.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Marley’s behavior. Is he a bad dog? Why or why not? Is his family helping him learn how to behave better?

  • Do you think this story could really happen? Why or why not?

Book details

Author:John Grogan
Illustrator:Richard Cowdrey
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:July 7, 2009
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8

This review of Marley Goes to School was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

For kids who love animals

External sites

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 2 and 2 year old Written byCP Padre January 12, 2011

A great school story with a little mischief

Our two year old loves this book. We got it for him in August before he headed off to daycare for the school year and it really paints a fun portrait of school. Parents should know that Marley does get into some mischief but it is all good natured.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide