Books That Are Class Acts

 

As a child, I adored Madeline, but I was more into the TV show the books. The same goes for Curious George. For this assignment, I decided to pick up both of these classics and see if they could reignite the spark I felt years ago.

Reading Madeline, I actually remembered this book from my childhood, but Curious George was entirely new to me. Classic children’s books, I believe, have a similar criteria to any other book. A classic should be engaging, and it helps to have characters children can relate to. They should stand the test of time, and be just as readable now as they were then. For children’s books, I would add the additional requirements of having appealing artwork and a story that adults can also enjoy.

Madeline’s title character stands out from the other girls she lives with because she is brave and adventurous. The book is set against the beautiful Paris backdrop. When Madeline gets her appendix taken out, she’s given toys and ice cream, and the surgery leaves her with a scar that she shows off to her friends. The ending, where girls all cry that they want their appendix out too, is amusing in a way that adults can also appreciate.

George of Curious George, drawn simply but adorable, is impossible not to love. However, the vegetarian and animal lover in me cringed at the plot. A monkey is taken away from his home and placed in, of all places, the zoo. As a librarian, I would recommend Madeline to children. While I wouldn’t discourage or attempt to stop a child from reading Curious George, I would never recommend a story that has such a casual attitude toward animal cruelty.

Bemelmans, Ludwig. Madeline. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1939.

Rey, H.A. Curious George. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1941.

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