Sunday, October 9, 2011

Happy Birthday James Marshall - October 10

Happy Birthday James Marshall - (October 10, 1942 - October 13, 1992)

Friendship could be described as a relationship that is "spontaneous, nothing seems strained or overworked." Many would say that friendship needs "balance" and the "perfect note of humor". It is important for friends to give each other "room for their own imaginations." At times though, friendship "may look effortless, but it is a lot harder than anyone can imagine."  All of these quotes were used to describe James Marshall's work in George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends. However, I found it interesting that the above quotes by Anita Silvey, David Weisner, and Marc Brown describe more than just the Marshall's work but how to be a great friend.

Anita Silvey said, "Jim Marshall wrote the best books about friendship and invented some of the most lovable characters in the canon of children's literature."  James Marshall is well-known for The Cut-Ups, The Stupids, George and Martha and Miss Nelson. I remember last Halloween how excited my daughter was when her Kindergarten teacher read the class Miss Nelson is Missing! and then dressed as Viola Swamp for their trick or treat celebration and class costume parade.

The George and Martha Series has been an absolute joy to read with my children this week.  A few of our favorite stories came from George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends -- The Trick from George and Martha Back in Town, and The Picnic from George and Martha Rise and Shine, and The Garden from George and Martha Encore.  But, the moment I read The Mirror from George and Martha I knew we had a birthday celebration activity.  In this story, Martha was looking at herself in the mirror far too much and it was bothering George.  He decided to draw a silly picture of her on her mirror.  It gave her quite a scare and she realized that frequently looking in the mirror may not be the best idea.
We gathered a few mirrors that still hadn't found a place in our new house. Then we spread out a sheet, all of our craft paints, and paintbrushes of various sizes.
We reread The Mirror and I told the kids to pretend they were George and paint a picture that would scare Martha!
My youngest started as the supervisor, but later wanted in on the action.
This was my son's scary drawing! I think Martha would have been horrified if she would have looked into this mirror.
I had to go find another mirror for the little one! 
I don't think we could have had a more beautiful fall day to be painting outside.
Look! A scary monster!
After the kids were finished and went to the swing set, I quickly went into their bathroom and added a few scary paintings of my own!
I thought I would close with a quote not from a famous author about James Marshall, but with a quotes from George and Martha. Those that knew Marshall say they can still hear him speaking when they read his books.  This quote is from The Tooth in George and Martha after George gets a new gold tooth to replace the favorite tooth he lost.  Martha says, "You look so handsome and distinguished with your new tooth!"  George replies, "That's what friends are for, they always look on the bright side and they always know how to cheer you up." Martha follows with, "But they also tell you the truth."

Also check out these fairy tales retold by James Marshall:

1. James Marshall Biography - Greenville Public Library, Penguin Group,
2. Celebrating James Marshall and Humor in Children's Literature - MIT
3. Miss Nelson is Back Video - YouTube
4. George and Martha on YouTube - Intro, Episodes
5. James Marshall's Cinderella Video - Scholastic
6. Miss Nelson Activity Ideas - TeacherVision, Learning to Give
7. Miss Nelson is Missing - Anita Silvey's Children's Book a Day Almanac
8. George and Martha - HBO Family

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