George is a dog, a bright orange and red dog with floppy ears and a very long purple snout that looks like it’s been dipped in black paint. He is the glorious creation on the front cover, whose eyes implore you to buy the book, or at the very least pick it up for a browse. Harry is his owner and he also, incidentally, has a very long snout. Harry isn’t around for the first half of the book; George is – and he has assured Harry that he will be ‘very good’. The problem is there are too many temptations in the way – cake being the first – and George just cannot resist them.
Using a simple but effective repetitive structure, we see George confront and give into temptation three times. Each time he reminds himself of his promise to be good, then admits that the draw is huge: ‘I said I’d be good . . . but I LOVE cake.’ Author/illustrator Chris Haughton then cleverly brings the reader into the story, asking what George will do next, before revealing the answers in a series of hilarious double spreads – freeze frames that capture George’s misdemeanours. Oh no, George!
George is trouble when Harry returns but he immediately shows remorse for his behaviour – that giant tear in his eye just melts my heart every time I see it! Then, a nice stroll with the very forgiving Harry provides him with the chance to show he can look temptation in the eye and walk on by. Well done, George! He passes with flying colours. Or does he? Gotta love a picture book that leaves us with a cheeky teaser right at the end!
On the surface, Oh No, George! is a hugely entertaining read with bright and bold illustrations that will wow the reader on every page. And George of course is a delightful character, larger than life and wonderfully naughty, but at the same time caring, thoughtful and trying oh so hard to be good! His thoughts and actions provide a great springboard for discussing good and bad behaviour, the need to apologise for doing wrong and upsetting others, as well as the challenges of trying to do the right thing. And we can learn from Harry, too. Despite his initial outburst, he is quick to forgive George and move on.
So, it’s an oh yes, George! from me. Every child (and their accompanying grown-ups) should have a copy of this brilliant book.
Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton (Candlewick Press, 2012; published in Ireland by Walker Books).
Chris Haughton is a designer and children’s book author. He has published a number of highly successful titles, including A Bit Lost, his first children’s book, which has been translated into 27 languages. He has a strong interest in fair trade and is the co-founder of a networking initiative and a social business, both based in Nepal.