Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mr. George Baker

Mr. George Baker

Amy Hest
Illustrator:   Jon J. Muth 
Picture Book
For ages 4 and up
Candlewick, 2004   ISBN: 978-0763612337

Right next door lives a man who is one hundred years old, "no kidding." His name is Mr. George Baker and a long time ago he was a musician. He and Harry, a small rumple haired boy, are friends and every morning they sit together on George’s porch, sucking on chocolate candies and waiting. The two unlikely friends, the old man and the young boy, watch the leaves drift down and they wait.

And what are they waiting for? They are waiting for the school bus, and the bus is not just for Harry, but it is also for George. George never learned how to read and now he is going to the same school as Harry to learn how. Together George and Harry are learning how to read and "it’s hard" but George, the finger drumming, foot tapping old musician, is sure that they "can do it."

Not only is this is remarkable tribute to all friendships but it also makes the idea of an adult going to school to learn how to read sound perfectly ordinary and unremarkable. Of course in George’s case his going to school is remarkable for he is one hundred years old. Quietly and with no fuss the author reveals how brave and unique the old man is, a man who can make such a long journey to school every day in the company of a little boy, and a man who is determined to succeed in his quest for literacy.

Jon Muth perfectly captures the serene atmosphere and the comfortable friendship that the old musician and the little boy share. Soft watercolours are washed across the pages, small details capturing the interest and holding ones attention for a moment.