The book is a series of vignettes, displaying the personalities of the various children at school and the lessons they learn about integrity and honesty.
But mostly, it is the story of Dan, a tough orphan from the streets, who finds it difficult to obey the rules of the house. Dan's wrestling with moral issues form the heart of this novel.
Alcott drew inspiration from her father, who had radical ideas about education. The book reflects some of these ideas as Jo and Friedrich encourage their students to think for themselves, rather than drilling information and discipline into them. Dan's presence challenges these notions. Initially, he is a disruptive influence with the other children and cannot respect even the few rules imposed by the school. But the teachers persist; they see the good in the boy and believe he is destined for something special.
The rest of the March family gets very little exposure in this story - surprising in that one of them is lost suddenly late in the book. A bit more buildup would have improved that scene dramatically.
Although not quite on the literary level of its predecessor, Little Men is a pleasant successor to Little Women.