Saddle up your fiberglass horse, boys and girls; it's time to ride the Character Assassination Carousel!
Have you been on this ride before? Created by the fabulous Nicole Leigh Shaw, the Character Assassination Carousel is an opportunity for parents to bitch about their kids' books. More specifically, to bitch about the characters in said books. Are you psyched? Let's do it!
The characters I chose are George and Martha. I remember owning George and Martha by James Marshall as a child. I couldn't recall exactly what the book was about, but I know I loved it. I was excited to buy a copy for my son.
This book contains five short stories. And when I say short, I mean three pages long. Each one delves deeper and deeper into the intricacies of the relationship between two hippos. If you thought Gaspard and Lisa's codependence was creepy, just wait until you get a load of these two.
We begin the book with a tale of Martha making pea soup for George. Apparently, she just loves to cook pea soup, and does so quite often.
George does not like pea soup.
What the hell kind of game is Martha playing? She cooks something she knows is disgusting, and continually forces her friend to eat it? Why would you do that to someone? How long would this have gone on if she hadn't seen George dumping the soup? Did he pass some sort of test by finally being honest, and the cookies are his reward?
On to the next story. Martha happens upon George getting ready to take flight in a a hot air balloon. He can't seem to get it off the ground, so Martha suggests that the basket might be too heavy, and tells George to climb out. Look at her face. She knows exactly what she's doing.
Of course, the balloon takes off without him. George is beside himself. Martha tells him that she'd rather have him on the ground with her, anyway, and they watch his investment float away.
What the hell, Martha? A hot air balloon costs at least $30,000! (Yes, I looked that up. I'm a serious journalist, after all.) You just tricked George into throwing away tens of thousands of dollars because you couldn't bear the thought of him having fun without you for an hour? That's just sick.
In the next story, we learn that Martha may have a reason for being such a dick to George all the time. George, it seems, is a peeping tom.
One day, he peeps on Martha while she's bathing, so she clobbers him with her tub.
She then reminds him that although they're friends, she needs her privacy. Um, okay. Not how I would have handled that, but maybe it's just a hippo thing and I wouldn't understand.
In the next story, we learn that Martha is obsessed with looking at herself in the mirror. How obsessed? Well, she regularly wakes up in the middle of the night to gaze at her reflection and giggle about how "fun" it is.
George decides to teach Martha a lesson about vanity. He draws a grotesque picture of Martha and affixes it to her mirror.
Martha is understandably horrified. George tells Martha that's what happens when you look in the mirror too much. I think he's trying to convince her that she's so ugly, nobody else will ever have her. Sicko.
In the final story, George is rollerskating to Martha's house (with a bouquet of flowers, no less) when he falls and breaks his tooth.
He gets gold crown to replace it, but he's feeling very self-conscious about it. Martha tells him that he looks "handsome" and "distinguished," and he feels much better. He remarks on how friends always look on the bright side and cheer you up. Martha replies, "But they also tell you the truth," and smiles. End scene.
Wait, what? What does honesty have to do with a broken tooth? What kind of mind-fuckery are you into now, Martha? What sort of cryptic message are you trying to send? Are you implying that you don't like the tooth? Are you still mad about the soup? That was ages ago!
Conclusion: These two are both nuts, and they deserve each other.
If you enjoyed the ride, please go visit the last Character Assassin, Incredulous Mom. She takes on another bad relationship that I remember fondly: Frog and Toad!
Coming next is Alyson of The Shitastrophy. I can't wait!