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Good little monkey?

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I’ve also mentioned my daughter’s love of monkeys (in addition to monkeys she loves dogs, one of her first words, and lions and bears and, okay all stuffed animals, make that all animals). As you can probably guess we often read books about that famous monkey, Curious George. A fair number of the more recent Curious George books follow this pattern: George is a good little monkey and always very curious. The man in the yellow hat tells George not to do something. George does it. Chaos. Then something wonderful happens because of the chaos. So it turns out to be good that George didn’t listen and the world is made better because of it. I fully support curiosity, but also think George should listen to the man in the yellow hat, he really does know what is best, George. And, George, to be completely honest — I don’t understand why you are described as good. Good as in you don’t bite people? Good as in inherently good in your monkey soul? Because you are kind of naughty. I have a vague impulse to go through the Curious George books of this type and at least change that first “and” to a “but,” or just add a “not.” George was a good little monkey, but always very curious. George was not a good little monkey and always very curious. I restrain myself because I don’t want my daughter to think drawing on books is okay (generally, there are exceptions of course), but I also don’t want her to think not listening to me is okay and will ultimately make the world a better place. Not reading the books at all is not an option, since my daughter loves them, which brings us full circle back to the beginning of this post and the intensity of her monkey love. The Curious George book pictured is Margret & H. A. Rey’s Curious George Takes a Train (illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey by Martha Weston). If you want to know what sort of trouble George got up to in the train station you’ll have to check it out yourself. 

4 responses »

  1. Yes! My thought exactly about the beginning of the Curious George books. In fact, I think I’ve accidentally read the “and” as a “but” more than once, as it is so much more logical. Also, I find the original “Curious George” a bit disturbing. I know we can’t expect a 1941 book to be PC by today’s standards, but really… the story starts with the man in the yellow hat tricking George in his natural jungle setting by “popping” him into a bag and dragging him onto a boat to take home with him to New York… then George ends up smoking the man’s pipe before settling into bed… then he’s thrown into a dismal-looking jail cell by two policemen (one skinny, one fat, by the way)… I find the whole thing very odd, and hard to explain to my kids. Then there’s the weird ending, where George ends up living happily at the zoo… while in all the books that follow, he lives with the man in the yellow hat. So confusing!

    • I agree with you 100% (same reactions!) and have a post I wrote about this that I was saving for tomorrow, but I’ll put up now. In the second Curious George he escapes from the zoo and then the man goes to get him at the hospital, after he fell and broke his leg and overdoses (Curious George gets a job). It is bizarre. Do your sons like the old and new the same? My daughter loves both and doesn’t seem concerned about the kidnapping, but she does not like it when Curious George almost drowns.

  2. Pingback: I am so sorry, George! « Children's books

  3. Agreed! I always thought it was weird that in every CG book, he misbehaves but it all turns out alright. Is this supposed to be teaching children a lesson or something? I hope not!


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