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Literature / Arthur

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Arthur is a children's book series by Marc Brown. The series stars a young glasses-wearing aardvark named Arthur Read in a World of Funny Animals.

The series began in 1976 with Arthur's Nose. Since then, it's expanded into other media, including several Living Books games, a long-running cartoon that began in 1996, and a short spinoff of the cartoon. Due to the popularity of the cartoon, it in itself has also received several children's books.


Arthur provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • In the book Arthur's Computer Disaster, after the Brain couldn't find the problem with the computer, Arthur, D.W. and Buster then go to the computer repair shop.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift:
    • Arthur was originally a normal aardvark with a long nose. Over time his nose shrunk to the point where he's interchangeable with bears like the Brain.
    • Early on, the characters weren't all fully-dressed. Some didn't wear pants, while others were outright nude.
    • Fur Is Skin wasn't originally used. Characters had fur-toned colors, such as orange cats or grey rhinos.
  • The Bully: Francine bullied Arthur for his nose in Arthur's Nose.
  • Dream Episode: Arthur in a Pickle mostly consists of Arthur dreaming that he is in a town of pickles and later sent to pickle jail.
  • Early Installment Character Design Difference:
    • Arthur didn't wear his signature outfit and he had an aardvark-like nose.
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    • Francine originally had a clearly defined muzzle. She also wore dresses, which is something she almost never does.
    • The Tibble Twins were originally humans instead of bears.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first books featured more more non-mammalian animals than usual, such as owls. Arthur's classroom also consisted of characters that were later scrapped. In Arthur's Nose, his best friends were Francine, an unnamed bear, an unnamed bird, unnamed twin cats, an unnamed giraffe, and an owl.
    • Arthur's family wasn't named in the original book.
    • Arthur was a first grader in Arthur's Nose, not a third grader.
    • The books featured humans early on.
  • Guilt-Induced Nightmare: In "Arthur in a Pickle", Arthur lies to Mr. Ratburn that his dog Pal ate his homework and Mr. Ratburn tells him he's "in a pickle". He has a nightmare that night about being trapped in a world full of literal pickles.
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  • Honesty Aesop: The book "Arthur in a Pickle", Arthur lies that his dog Pal ate his homework. Due to his guilt (and because Mr. Ratburn told him he was "in a pickle"), he has a nightmare about a world of pickles. The next day, he apologizes to the principal Mr. Haney and admits that he had forgotten to do his homework, so Mr. Haney doesn't punish him.
  • Informed Species: While aardvark characters did have long noses in early books, they curved downward rather than being straight like real aardvarks' noses, making them more closely resemble tapir-like trunks.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: The first few books featured humans, but this was later done away with for a World of Funny Animals.
  • Not Where They Thought: In "Arthur's Eyes", Arthur goes into the girls' bathroom after ditching his glasses and is initially confused as to why Francine is in there until she screams at him to get the heck out because this is the women's room.
  • Pet Contest Episode: In Arthur and the Dog Show, Arthur tries to train his dog Pal to win a competition. While Pal is unable to learn tricks, he ends up winning the competition due to being the most loving dog.
  • Scarily Specific Story: In the book Arthur Babysits, Arthur draws the misbehaving Tibble twins out of hiding by mentioning a swamp monster. He says the monster likes eating boys (especially twins) and describes it approaching an old mansion, like the Tibbles' house. When the door opens, they scream... only for it to be their grandmother returning home.
  • Sickness Equals Redness: When Arthur is sick in Arthur's Nose, the front of his snout is red.
  • Token Human: In the early books, the Tibble family were the sole humans in a town of Funny Animals,
  • Unconventional Food Usage: In the book "Arthur's Halloween", Buster uses Jell-O, spaghetti and peeled grapes for fake brains, hearts, and eyeballs for the Halloween party. Arthur is too squeamish to touch them, much to Francine and Muffy's amusement.
  • World of Funny Animals: The world of Arthur is a mundane world, except that it's populated by (predominantly mammalian) Funny Animals instead of humans.

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