Happy 10th Birthday to Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

Can it really be ten years since we met George? This month marks the publication of a special ten year anniversary edition of this hilarious, clever picture book by Chris Haughton so it is a good time to explore what makes George and his adventures so popular.

Ten years ago when a copy of Oh No, George! landed on my desk in the school library his face was frankly impossible to resist. This was never going to be a picture book you put to one side to explore later, George’s expression demanded that I opened the cover to read his story.

For those who have not yet read this fabulous picture book George is quite simply a dog who wants to be good but struggles to be. Temptation lurks around every corner in the form of delicious cake to eat, cats that need chasing, soil crying out to be dug up by eager paws. It is all a bit much for George who gives in to temptation while his friend Harris is out of the house. When Harris returns there are inevitable repercussions and George is truly sorry for his actions. So the two friends try again and go out for a walk with George working hard at resisting temptation. All is well for a while then a new temptation is spotted. A rubbish bin. Can the reformed George resist?

Every single child I have introduced to this book has loved it. Really that is the best single sentence review you need I suppose. They love the bold, simple outlines of the illustrations, the psychedelic colours used, the questions the texts asks of the reader or listener but most of all they love George. Do they identify with George? Quite probably. But what makes this really work, the bit of genius that makes it stand out, is the ending with its final question. What will George do? I will never forget the expressions on the very young children’s faces the first time I read this aloud to them in the school library. That open ending, the possibility that George may choose the ‘wrong’ option is brilliant. There is a little bit of George in all of us and that is part of his appeal.

The press release accompanying this anniversary edition includes 10 facts about George which prompted me to visit Chris Haughton’s website to find out more about his research when he started this book. Please do visit this page where Chris shares the video of Denver the dog who inspired George’s irresistible guilty expression. Apparently George is also inspired by the author’s childhood dog Tammy, a Jack Russell-Labrador cross who one year ate all of Chris’ sister’s Easter Eggs. One whole cake no longer seems quite so greedy!

You may also like to watch this special ten year anniversary Oh No, George! trailer below:

The publishers Walker Books have also provided some activity sheets which you can download from their website by clicking on the picture below. Also the excellent LoveMyBooks website has suggestions for activities linked to this picture book which are definitely worth investigating.

I should like to thank Louisa Danquah and the publishers Walker Books for providing my review copy. The special anniversary edition of Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton is published on 7th April.

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