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Uncommercial

"With his first George and Martha book, James [Marshall] was already entirely himself. He lacked only one component in his constellation of gifts: he was uncommercial to a fault. No shticking, no nudging knowingly, no winking or pandering to the grownups at the expense of the kids."

—Maurice Sendak, May 1997

Reprinted in the anthology George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends, written and illustrated by James Marshall (Houghton Mifflin, 2008).

Amen, Mr. Sendak.

The second graders I read to liked several of the George and Martha picture books very much. Each one is broken into several stories that stand on their own, and the children loved the details of the hippo best friends, like Martha's rather large skirt and George's gold tooth. And how funny it is when George pours his pea soup into his loafers rather than offend Martha! Everyone, boys and girls, had a lot to say about these books.

I was a little surprised that a couple of the students struggled with parts where a reader or listener has to use inference to make the jump to the next scene, but I hope we spent enough time talking about the stories so that everyone understood. I'm glad the children speak up when they don't get it. The more we talk about things together, the better!

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Comments

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I'm not sure that these stories are available in the UK; either that or they passed me by, so thanks for highlighting them. It's true what you say about kids speaking out when they don't understand something, and important that that is respected enough for them to have continued confidence to do so...

Marshall is so funny, Marjorie. I just love his work.

The second graders keep me on my toes, for sure. I want to make sure that everyone is included in the discussions and that everyone feels free to participate. It's a bit harder this year than last to accomplish those goals, but I keep trying.

It's funny how some things click with a group one year, and then the next year comes along and you're scrambling down different avenues to reach the same golas... I find exactly the same thing with the small choir group of first and second graders that I meet with once a week.

Marjorie, I know! I invited kids who write their own stories to read them aloud to the class, and they're lovely. But the only ones who write and read well enough to do this are about five girls. I have to figure out something else; I don't want read-aloud time to be girls-only, as charming and adorable as those girls are.

I love these books, too. I also read them to second graders - they are perfect for them!

Tina, I'm sure you know the Miss Nelson Is Missing Books and The Cut-Ups, too. Lots of fun.

What other books do you read to second graders? I'm all ears & always on the lookout for suggestions for "my" class.

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