The Evolution of Arthur

Hi kids, today I’m here to talk to you about self-esteem. In Marc Brown’s first Arthur book, Arthur’s Nose, Arthur the aadvark is upset because his nose is too big and other students are laughing at him and making fun of him. In exhibit A., please note that little Arthur’s nose hangs down from his face, drooping what appears to be at least 14-20 inches to his chest. Indeed, as we read further, we learn that Arthur is so distraught over his nose that he decides to get a surgery called rhinoplasty. This is where a doctor creates a new nose for you. At the end of the book (SPOILER ALERT!) , Arthur learns that being himself is more important than what other people think of his nose. Self-esteem is feeling good about who you are despite what other people think. This is a valuable lesson that many cartoons and comically illustrated books can teach you. But wait, there is another lesson to be learned from picture books. Please note exhibit B.: this is another picture of Arthur, from Arthur Goes to Camp. Notice how his nose has gotten considerably smaller. In picture C., from Arthur’s Tooth, we see that Arthur has now nearly lost his nose, his coloring has changed, his ears have gotten smaller. Finally, in D., from Arthur’s Teacher Moves In, Arthur’s nose has completely vanished, the “hairlines” that were ubiquitous in previous incarnations have disappeared, his elongated head has shortened. He stares at the audience as if to say, “Please, help! What am I? A bear? A monkey?” No, Arthur, you are an aardvark. An anteater. The long-nosed aardvark from the 1976 book has, by the 2000s, morphed into a non-specific animal-like character. He still teaches valuable lessons in each book, but what the evolution of Arthur has taught us is that in order to become a beloved television, video, book, and toy icon, you must first look cute. No foot-long noses; you must be marketable. No large, thin feet; you must be cuddly. So remember kids, in order to succeed in life, try to be more like Arthur.

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