Oh No, George! is the second book (published 2012) from Chris Haughton, author of A Little Bit Lost. It’s a bright, cheery looking story, and our version is a board book – unusually a matt finish board book, which although very beautiful does suffer more than usual from wear at the corners and spine.
George is the dopey looking hound on the front cover, and his friend/owner/companion is the longsuffering Harris. The story in a nutshell is this: Harris goes out, George tries and fails to resist temptation and Harris returns to find the house a mess. However, George feels shame for his impulsive actions and the second time he faces a choice he may make the right one.
There are two elements to this story that work well for me. One is the acknowledgement of the temptation to do wrong. My young toddler loves this book and has done for a while, and I think that’s because on some level, despite her obvious lack of experience with language, she understands what it feels like to want to do something so badly you can’t stop yourself even when you know it’s wrong. Particularly if that something is to eat a whole chocolate cake.
The other is the repetition of “Oh no, George!”. It’s hilarious. I don’t think I realised it was hilarious until I read it out loud, but cram all the syllables you can muster into those three words and it’s very funny indeed.
Haughton has done a great job with George’s expressions, and despite the ostensible simplicity of the graphic design there is a degree of complexity to what you can see going through his head.
The best didactic children’s books address the issue of making mistakes and accepting imperfection without suggesting you should stop striving to be better. Oh No, George! does this very well, particularly as it leaves poor George (and us) hanging at the end. He’s far from perfect, but he’s trying to get better, as we all are and all should be. That Harris accepts him as he is and is kind is a good lesson for any frustrated parent too.
Well worth getting hold of and reading.