Saturday, March 14, 2009

George and Martha-- Not the Washingtons

James Marshall, Troll Associates, 1972

Hippo hilarity. George and Martha are two great friends and this book tells five stories... short vignettes about their lives.

In the first, Martha makes split pea soup, not so much because she likes it but because it's fun to make. George, who HATES it, doesn't have the heart to tell her so he pours bowl number eleven into his loafers. That image is what makes the whole story for me.

Next George is excited to be the first of his species to take to the air in his flying machine--a hot air balloon. He can't figure out why it's not going anywhere, perhaps the "basket" is too heavy, he thinks. Hmmm.. yes, George, perhaps. Yes, the subtle touches of humor in the book are what make it the classic it is.

In episode three, "The Tub," George learns a lesson in privacy. In episode four, "The Mirror," Martha learns to be less narcissistic. And the last story, episode five, is my favorite. It begins:

"One day when George was skating to Martha's house, he tripped and fell. And he broke off his right front tooth. His favorite tooth too."

It's the "favoriteness" of that tooth that cracks me up. Also the whole image of a one toothed hippo is tragic and funny. I love that the dentist hooks him up with some shiny gold tooth splendor.

James Marshall (1942-1992) received Caldecott honor recognition for his 1989 book, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. He is also the author of some other favorites of mine, the Miss Nelson books which I am sure to feature on the blog one day soon. Some say he gleaned the names for these characters not from the famous first president and first lady, but from the famous play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which he saw as a child. He is known for his sly humor and subtle touches in all his books. Be sure to follow the James Marshall link to read what other authors had to say about him and his work.

1 comment:

Jeremiah McNichols said...

Thanks so much for reminding me of this book! I loved it too as a child.

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