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this week's library book

This week's library book was a favorite of mine as a child, George and Martha by James Marshall. There are several George and Martha books, each consisting of four or five short stories about the adventures of two best friends. This book is a compilation of all the George and Martha books, over 300 pages of their adventures.

In the foreword, James' friend Maurice Sendak explains, "If one of James's most remarkable attributes was his genius for friendship, then George and Martha are the quintessential expression of that genius. Those dear, ditzy, down-to-earth hippos bring serious pleasure to everybody, not only to children. They are time-capsule hippos who will always remind us of a paradise in publishing and—both seriously and comically—of the true, durable meaning of friendship under the best and worst conditions." 

I have always loved James Marshall's illustrations. I especially love the hand drawn type which introduces each story. I spent hours as a child trying to replicate his bubbly letters. As Sendak says in the foreword, "Much has been written concerning the sheer deliciousness of Marshall's simple, elegant style. The simplicity is deceiving; there is richness of design and mastery of composition on every page. Not surprising, since James was a notorious perfectionist and endlessly redrew those "simple" pictures." 

I read that most of the George and Martha books were printed as four color overlays, so Marshall had to make four different drawings, one for each color. For a 48 page book, this meant he had to create almost 200 pieces of art. He sometimes had a hard time meeting his deadlines. As his publisher writes in the afterword, "He was a great storyteller personally as well. His grandmother died three times, according to Jim, to explain overdue artwork."

I was putting together a board on Pinterest of all the library books I've shared over the years, and realized how much I love seeing our books this way. Documenting our favorites has gotten a little harder now that my daughter Bee (my most patient hand model) is in school all day, but I love doing it. Some of our favorite books have been checked out from the library several times and feel almost like old friends.

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Reader Comments (123)

Yes! We love this book and ended up buying it, because we couldn't live without it! My boys often quote Martha, "But friends also always tell the truth!" And they would definitely tell me the truth if I ever gave them split-pea soup!

03.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBecca L

This is one of my favorite books when I was little! I'm so glad it's still circulating!

03.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAimee

I love your library posts. As much as I enjoy reading, my two little guys sometimes make our library outings painful. I adore recommendations so that I have a list when we hit the door. Thank you!

03.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKate

i enjoy your book recommendations. thank you!

03.15.2013 | Unregistered Commenterlulu and family

i hope i could to take your link to download, because i thought your link is full of good and quality books

03.19.2013 | Unregistered Commenteragen bola

Yea! These are back! Maybe you need to move that younger girl you have to be the next hand model. I bet she'd be real patient...

03.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterApes

I loved George and Martha as child, so once this book came out I was certain to buy it.

Great illustrations for a children's book. The use of a minimal color scheme helps convey the tone and mood of the story.

04.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMicroSourcing

Ohhh, I forgot about these! I must check the library. I loved the part about the deadlines. Made me laugh. Thanks for this!

04.1.2013 | Unregistered Commenterann

How wonderful! I love reading about the authors/artists and their process:) Such great insight into this amazing artist. Thank you! XO

04.2.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy

This book looks fabulous - I think a trip to the library is in order!!

fantastic i really love this post

05.16.2013 | Unregistered Commenterayo

good post ! thank you !

07.15.2013 | Unregistered Commentersora daniel

Love this book!

Thx for post!

08.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndreea

ohmigosh. i had forgotten about george and martha until this very post. i am so happy i remembered - i want to find this for my little guy! xo

Wow I just found your blog and I had to tell you I love your series on children's library books. Library books were a huge part of my development as a kid and the way you share them is so beautiful!

09.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

Love the George and Martha books. Thanks for a trip down memory lane!

01.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterSheila@Chinaberry

This is a picture book we'll keep around much after our picture book phase has moved on in our lives. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful choices, as always!

02.6.2014 | Unregistered Commentergina

Love George and Martha! The Canadian TV series of George and Martha is also totally entertaining. (Nathan Lane is the voice of George.)

03.28.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

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