All-time Best George & Martha Story… No. 6 / All-time greatest kidlit illustration

Actually, I don’t remember which number this is. But it’s a crowded field of nominees, because, frankly, George and Martha just about the perfect kids stories: quick, funny, deep, true and wondrous.

Here’s one of the shortest and silliest and. perhaps, the all-time best:

“The Tub” from the first G&M book, “George and Martha.”

32 words long!

This story, short as it is, contains two strong contenders for the title of All-Time Greatest Kidlit Illustration.

First is George peeking in the window:

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Second is this outrageous odalesque of Martha actually IN THE TUB! My stars!

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All-time Best George and Martha Story – Nominee #3

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Uh-oh, Martha’s getting itchy…

From George and Martha Rise and Shine we have “The Experiment.”

First and foremost, a funny story. As usual told with incredible economy of words, lines and colors.

More subtly, we have a fine portrait of the way friends behave. Here we have the moment when one friend starts their own thing and gets all bigheaded about it. Then they tumble back to earth. I probably would have laughed, but George is such a wonderful fellow. He just helps. (or possibly enables, since Martha then plans to try something even crazier.)

By making such lean and spare stories, Marshall gives us a chance to color these stories with our own experiences and understanding. Yet, they still teach us to be kinder, better people.

Helping friends gracefully recover from bad decisions is a wonderful theme in Marshall’s work. It’s seen in other G&M stories, plus the longer masterpiece “Yummers.” Just the other day I was thinking of one of my great High School Failures as a Human Being. It would have been so different if I could have been a little more George-like.