Mr. George Baker

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Mr. George Baker Book Poster Image
Reading and friendship are for people of all ages!

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

A 100-year-old African-American musician is excited about learning to read. He and the young neighbor boy have a lot in common, respect each other for who they are, and become friends.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that nothing objectionable is presented in this story of the friendship that develops between an old man and a young boy who are both learning to read.

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What's the story?

Mr. George Baker, a 100-year-old African-American drummer, never learned to read. However, he has decided that his illiteracy is something that needs to be corrected, even at his age, so he starts going to school. He strikes up a friendship with Harry, his young neighbor who rides the same bus, goes to the same school, and is also struggling as he learns to read. Harry tells their story.

Is it any good?

The heartwarming cover illustration of an old man sitting next to a young boy, both with backpacks as they wait for the school bus, tells it all. The watercolor is simple, natural and clear, as is the writing and message of the story. The natural simplicity that resonates in Jon Muth's wonderful illustrations sets the tone while the easy poetry of text supplies a gentle rhythm. Together, they tell the hopeful, uplifting story of the unusual friendship that has developed largely because old man and boy are both eager to get to school where they have accepted the difficult challenge of learning to read.

But this is more than an unlikely friendship tale. Harry and Mr. George Baker can teach us all a lesson about respecting people for who they are, appreciating their individualities, and accepting them regardless of their age, race, or challenges.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how exciting it is to be able to read and the fact that not everyone learns to read as a child. Can you imagine a grown-up who can't read? Why do you think that happens? Why didn't Mr. Baker learn to read? Why does he think it is something that "must be corrected"? If you were as old as he is and had never read a book, would you go back to school? How do you think that would feel? How would you feel if someone who was 100 years old rode your school bus, came to class at your school, and took classes just like the kids?

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