Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Report: George and Martha

On Christmas morning, I was pleasantly surprised to unwrap this paperback copy of James Marshall's classic children's book George and Martha.  George and Martha, for the uninitiated, are a couple of gently quarrelsome hippos who also happen to be best friends.  My five-year-old self had been under the impression that they were married, but a quick read-aloud revealed that they were not.  Which made them even more hilarious, especially in "The Tub," the mini story that made me laugh the hardest:

 "George was fond of peeking in windows."

 "One day George peeked in on Martha."

    "He never did that again.  "We are friends," said Martha.  "But there's such a thing as privacy!" '

I couldn't help but think that such humor was too subtle, not to mention suggestive, to be intended for children alone.  So I flipped to the back cover, which sure enough parroted this quote from the New York Times

"James Marshall's five stories about two great friends are really five mini-farces in which the dignity and the bulk of the hippos is in contrast with the ludicrousness of their situations . . . The secret of Mr. Marshall's success lies not just in the freshness of his sense of the ridiculous, but in the carefulness of his control and editorial judgment."

Indeed, Mr. Marshall, you are a jewel.  So much so that I may just have to start a George and Martha library to have all that ludicrousness at my fingertips.     

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