Monday, July 22, 2013

Want to learn to read....even if you are 100? Mr. George Baker did....

         "Books had instant replay long before televised sports."
                                             ~Bern Williams

Title:  Mr. George Baker
Author:  Amy Hest
Illustrator:  Jon J. Muth
Ages:  5-8

                                A Reading Rainbow Pick ...... (always a good endorsement)

This tender picture book is a story of a beautiful friendship between two unlikely people.  They are neighbours and Mr. George Baker is one hundred years old while his friend Harry is only in first grade.  Each morning they sit together on George's porch and suck chocolate candies while waiting for the bus to take them off to school.  You see George was an African-American jazz drummer in his prime, but unfortunately was never taught to read.  He knows that his illiteracy problem needs to be corrected so he is taking charge and doing something about it.  He is a very unique and brave man who makes that long journey to the local school each day determined to succeed in his quest to understand the written words on a page. Both he and Harry are bonded together because they are learning to read.  When the bus finally arrives they board it holding on to hands... happy to be together and looking out for each other.  At school Mr. Baker studies with a group of grown-ups while Harry does the same in his classroom down the hall.  The muted watercolours by Jon J. Muth, wash across the pages exposing simple and engaging images with many details to be enjoyed.  It is a hopeful, inspiring tale that speaks compellingly to intergenerational friendship.  It teaches us to respect people for who they are and appreciate their individualities.  It urges us to accept people regardless of their age, race or the challenges in their lives. 

Excerpt:  'Mr. George Baker'

"See this man?  This one here, sitting on the porch?

That's Mr. George Baker, and he's a hundred years old, no kidding.

"Hurry up, Harry?  Mr. Harry-in-Charge."  That's George, all snappy and happy in the morning.  He always calls "Hurry up, Harry." when I'm crossing lawns - his and mine - and he's always there first, waiting on the porch.

See his pants, all baggy, baggy, baggy?  What holds them up - suspenders! Brown baggy pants with two side pockets, and two in back.  There's candy in those pockets.  Little chocolate candies in twisty silver wrappers. George pops one in his mouth and I do too.

We wait on the porch and chew.

(c) 2004 by Amy Hest.  Excerpted with permission from the Candlewick Press.

Meet the author:  Amy Hest

 I could write a bunch about her but the best way to get a flavour of her and what she does is to visit her on her web page:

About the Illustrator:

  • Jon J. Muth
  • Jon J. Muth is an American comic book artist and children's book illustrator, known for his painted artwork. Muth studied stone sculpture and shodō in Japan; and studied painting, printmaking, and drawing in England, Austria, and Germany. Wikipedia
    BornJuly 28, 1960 (age 52), Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
    AwardsCaldecott MedalBook Sense Book of the Year Award: Children's Illustrated

        8   (Fantastic!)

    Read on and read always!

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