Curious George

From Academic Kids

Curious George is a character and a popular book series starring a curious monkey named George, who is brought from his home in Africa by a man in a yellow hat to a big city. There, he lives with the man, called, simply enough, the man with the yellow hat.

Contents

Premise

The stories often consist of George getting into some form of trouble by being overly-curious, and the man with the yellow hat getting him out of it. George often learns a lesson from these adventures, which parallel the way young children learn about the world around them. Being children's literature, these adventures only result in lessons that a young person can comprehend.

Creation

The series was written and drawn by the husband and wife team of H. A. Rey and Margret Rey, starting in 1941. At first only Hans Rey was credited for the work in order to differentiate the Reys' books from the large number of children's books written by female authors [1] (http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/features/cgsite/curiousaboutgeorge.shtml|1). Later, Hans Rey was credited for the illustrations and Margret Rey for the writing. The Reys produced many other children's books but the Curious George series was the most popular of all. It has been re-edited continuously in the six decades since the first volume came out. The current United States publisher is Houghton Mifflin of Boston.

Series

The Curious George books have been segmented by Houghton Mifflin into a few categories: classic favorites, board books, and new adventures. Classic favorites include the original seven books, all written and illustrated by the Reys. Board books are stories and books designed specifically for small children. New adventures include books by the Reys that were either original stories or adapted from the filmstrip series, as well as new books "illustrated in the style of H. A. Rey" by Martha Weston. Around the world, the adventures of Curious George have been translated in many languages, and George takes on names such as Peter Petal in Denmark or Jorge El Curiouso in Spanish speaking countries.

Classic Curious George Favorites

  • Curious George, (1941)
  • Curious George Takes a Job, (1947)
  • Curious George Rides a Bike, (1952)
  • Curious George Gets a Medal, (1957)
  • Curious George Flies a Kite, (1958)
  • Curious George Learns the Alphabet, (1963)
  • Curious George Goes to the Hospital, (1966)

Classic Curious Board Books (in alphabetical order)

  • Curious George's 1 to 10 and Back Again
  • Curious George's ABCs
  • Curious George's Are You Curious?
  • Curious George And the Bunny
  • Curious George Goes Fishing
  • Curious George's Opposites
  • Curious George Rides
  • Curious George and the Rocket

The New Curious George Adventures (in alphabetical order)

  • Curious George and the Birthday Surprise
  • Curious George and the Dinosaur
  • Curious George and the Dump Truck
  • Curious George and the Pizza
  • Curious George at the Fire Station
  • Curious George at the Parade
  • Curious George Feeds the Animals
  • Curious George Goes and the Hot Air Balloon
  • Curious George Goes Camping
  • Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory
  • Curious George Goes to a Costume Party (by Martha Weston)
  • Curious George Goes to an Ice Cream Shop
  • Curious George Goes to School
  • Curious George Goes to the Beach
  • Curious George Goes to the Movies
  • Curious George in the Big City
  • Curious George in the Big City (by Martha Weston)
  • Curious George in the Snow
  • Curious George Makes Pancakes
  • Curious George Plays Baseball
  • Curious George Takes a Train
  • Curious George Visits the Library
  • Curious George Visits the Zoo
  • Curious George's Dream

Interpetations

A small handful of scholars believe there is a racist undertone to "Curious George". The book, written in France, tells of a monkey with human-like characteristics, who is brought into civilization. The Man in the Yellow Hat must rescue the helpless monkey as he creates blunders in his new environment. Some see this as a metaphor for the "civilizing" of Africans into European culture.

On an allegorical level, it could be (and has been) argued that when George lives in Africa, his life is simple and carefree, and thus representative of the womb; the man in the yellow hat is a kindly, but stern paternal figure who takes him from this place and into the real world: the big city is the place where we all grow up. This interpetation probably accounts for its continued popularity, and skirts the issue of representing a benevolent kidnapper.

Other Media

There was a series of animated television films made featuring the character, which were then adapted into books themselves (making up part of the New Adventures series listed above).

There has been a stop-motion adaptation of two Curious George stories, created with puppet-figures by noted animator John Clark Matthews (who also used a similiar technique for his film of Frog and Toad Together).

A new film, (Curious George), featuring Will Ferrell as the man in the yellow hat, is currently filming and set to be released in 2006.

Trivia

The September 6, 2001 edition of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart reported that Jews for Jesus had used Curious George in some of its literature, prompting a lawsuit from Houghton Mifflin (following Houghton Mifflin's defense of The Wind Done Gone, another parody-copyright situation). A representative of Jews for Jesus (according to The Daily Show) said, "It is curious, and perhaps a bit ironic, that Houghton Mifflin lacks an ordinary sense of humor."

Most curiously of all, George lacks a tail, a characteristic which traditionally separates monkeys from the great apes.

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