Children's book author and illustrator James Marshall started his prolific outpouring of works in the mid 70s. I first came to know him through his retelling of classic fairy tales.
In 1989 his retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears was recognized as a Caldecott Honor book for his outstanding illustrations. That was followed by The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel and my personal favorite Red Riding Hood. The heroines in his hands are spunky, sassy gals who have no trouble defending themselves.
I kept these titles in my stock of must share texts that I bring out year after year. Somewhere in the periphery there were the Miss Nelson books, and the Fox stories.
However, it wasn't until this year that I became a huge fan of Mr. Marshall.
It started with the George and Martha series. These are very short stories, usually five to a book, about two portly hippopotami who share a close friendship. Children can witness as they negotiate the larger themes of honesty, friendship, loyalty, respect and privacy.
An added bonus is the rich, delicious vocabulary sprinkled throughout the texts. Sadly, there are only seven titles in the series. Lauren went exploring on the Internet to see if there were any more in the pipeline and that is when we discovered that this unique author/illustrator passed away in 1992.
Another recent favorite is Snake: His Story about a snake who, unlike his parents who are deaf, can hear. There is a bit of a dilemma about what to do with this little guy who swings to the music his family does not hear. Of course it all works out well in the end.
Other titles you might want to check out are The Guest about the friendship between a moose and a snail and a book series about The Stupid Family. The Stupids are really, really stupid but rest assured, it is okay to laugh at their antics.