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By Midge Lyndee
Book Review 


The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment


February 18, 2023

In the book of "Genesis," the biblical characters of Adam and Eve named animals in the Garden of Eden. Man has been naming not only animals since the beginning of time, but plants, minerals, microbes and stars across the universe. Did you know that the word dinosaur wasn't coined until 1842? Before that, this species was generally referred to as terrible lizards. But the more man discovered about these mighty beasts, it became important to choose a more definitive name. Names clarify, giving a greater sense of what something is so information can be communicated and shared clearly with others.

Though Shakespeare very eloquently gave his opinion in "Romeo and Juliet" that, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," people still feel that a name a person goes by is really important, that a name encompasses and identifies them. New parents agonize sometimes for months, choosing the perfect name before their child enters the world. Most times the first introduction humans have with each other is an exchange of names.

In this book review, we are going to explore the many Georges found in a variety of books. Why George? February is the month we celebrate President's Day, specifically Presidents George (Washington) and Abraham (Lincoln). Frankly, George just seemed more fun.

It is estimated there are over 900 books written about George Washington. To get a rounded view, reading several authors will definitely give you enough information to decide for yourself the life and times of the first president. But if you want a new approach, you might try Alexis Coe's representation in, "You Never Forget Your First." She attempts to both inform and entertain in her unique interpretation of this celebrated president, taking him from an icon to a regular, slightly above average man, in the midst of an incredible journey.

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Highly acclaimed author John Steinbeck named his main character in "Of Mice and Men" George Milton. With his friend Lennie Small, they moved from place to place as migrant farm workers in California during the Great Depression. This George lives the horrors of challenging times, scraping the very earth to sustain his life and the life of others. "Of Mice and Men" has been banned many times for its vulgarity and racist language. This George may not be for everyone. The story frames humanity at both its most brutal and most fragile, making it a questionable choice for the faint of heart.

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George Herman Ruth started his career as a 19-year-old kid playing baseball amongst a group of grown men. He was given the nickname "Babe" from being called bambino as the youngest on the team. Many books have been written about the famed Babe Ruth, calling him the greatest ball player of all time. But only one book was written by Babe himself (or so it was promoted). "Babe Ruth's Own Book of Baseball" by George Herman Ruth was first published in 1928 and reprinted in 1992. The language is full of fun colloquialisms, many of which have been lost to us through the years. This George shows baseball to the reader from the very inside of the game.

I would be remiss not to review one of the most famous Georges of all, Curious George himself. Written by Margaret and H.A. Rey, their series of children's books have delighted youngsters and adults since 1939. Curious George first appeared in a short story "Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys." George, his mother and siblings, were left homeless by the loss of trees as woodcutters demolished their forest. Cecily G. the giraffe assists George and his family across a great divide cementing a bond of friendship between them.

Now, I must reveal that this story was first published in France and George's name was actually Fifi. But as Fifi meets and is befriended by "The Man in the Yellow Hat" and brought from Africa to America, his name was changed and he is known as Curious George by millions of children who have enjoyed his crazy antics and adventures. He rides a bicycle, flies a kite, herds puppies, flies into space and more. Now would George by any other name like Fifi be the same?

Names matter in our world. Fifi changed to George, George Herman changed to Babe. Would you feel the same about Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind" if the publishers hadn't insisted that Margaret Mitchell change it from Pansy? "Frankly my dear Pansy, I don't give a ..." That would have lost some impact on the big screen!

Many people in life choose to change their names as they mature, feeling their birth name no longer fits. I honor that choice. We should feel that our names fit us and be as comfortable in our skins as we can when we are introduced in this world. George is a good solid name. It comes from the Greek georgos and means earth or earthworker. It's bold. It's solid. Enjoy the many Georges this February!

Good Books. Good reading.

*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.


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