Tuesday, September 22, 2009

George and Martha by James Marshall

This book was actually a set of 5 very short stories about 2 hippos named George and Martha. I read through all of the stories to see if there were any commonalities throughout the book and found that in almost every story Martha is given a typical "female" role. In the first story she is cooking meals for George every day and eventually finds out that he doesn't like what she is cooking and she moves into talking about "feelings." This was interesting to me because girls are usually seen as expressing more emotions and feelings than boys. The idea behind the story is telling the truth and at one point Martha says, "Friends should always tell each other the truth." I think this is a cute idea but the way it was presented in this particular story seemed almost like a public service announcement or from a t.v. show similar to "Leave it to Beaver" where there is this symbol of a "perfect" world. In another story Martha is put in the same typical female role again when she takes care of George after he falls down while skating. George gets to Martha's house and she has him sit down while she takes on the nurturing role of helping him with everything and trying to comfort him. After realizing these very stereotypical roles I double checked the copyright date and found that it was published in 1972. I definitely think that at the time this book was published most people weren't concerned with stereotypes of males and females and what that could mean for children's literature so I thought it was something that definitely helped me in my view of this book.

I think this is a cute book to read but I can't see justifying it's place in a classroom library because I don't want to promote the stereotypes that are being shown in this book. I want to be able to move beyond them and find books that go against them.

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