Curious George

December 5th, 2009 · 7 Comments · Books


Revisiting the original book about everyone’s favorite chimpanzee, Curious George by Margret and H.A. Ray, I was surprised by some of the details I’d forgotten as a child.  Of course, The Man with the Yellow Hat baits and captures George, removing him from his African homeland and ultimately placing him in a zoo — there’s that.  But there is also the bit where George smokes a pipe and another part where George is placed in prison.

I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t love Curious George’s sense of adventure, but there’s lots to talk about after you read the original book.  What, for example, is the difference between the prison and the zoo?  Why would George love one and not the other?  (I’d also throw in a quick chat about the dangers of smoking.)

Ages 4-8.

A related note: There was a lot of controversy surrounding the release of the Curious George movie several years ago.  What did you think?  I’ve yet to see it, but kiddo and I love Jack Johnson’s soundtrack.

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • ariellandi

    Hi there,
    thanks for your comment on my blog! I am happy to visit yours as well. My daughter is 2 so, this is all very helpful. We recently saw the old curious george you are referring to, and yes it’s a little out of date in many ways. Auralee (that’s my daughter) does like the movie, and I think it’s fine. Fairly harmless as these things go. To be honest the previews bother me more- some barbie movie about princesses, bleck. Anyway, thanks for commenting and I’ll be back to see what you guys are reading and watching,
    Ariella (

  • Heather

    My son loves Curious George, both the animated movie with Will Farrell and the PBS show. I too had forgotten the details in the original book! We recently got the read along version for him from B&N and I was horrified. There are several things that are definitely not appropriatefor or easy to explain to a 3-year old!

    In the movie, the only bad thing that happens is at one point the man decides he can’t properly care for a monkey and calls animal control to have him taken away. They capture him and put him in a cage, then he’s loaded onto a ship to go back to Africa. This part could be a bit scary for small children, but the man ultimately comes and rescues him. He looks quite lonely and upset, but is never roughed up or hurt.

    As for how they come to be together, in the movie version it is actually a happy story. George doesn’t have a family like the other animal babies do. He meets the man, they play together, then George follows the man back onto the boat when he leaves to come back to the US.

  • EcoChampion

    My kids and I love these books. Such great fun!

  • Jennifer

    When my son was two, he received some CG board books. Without accurately stating their names, here are their overarching themes:

    1. CG finds a rabbit hutch in a backyard where there is clearly a call for some spay/neuter action.

    2. CG goes to space in a rocket. This was the hardest one for me to swallow, knowing the history of our nation’s relationship with the chimpanzees who participated in the space program.

    3. CG goes out fishing (fortunately unsuccessful).

    It was a sweet gift but made me laugh because the plots of the books needed some countering!

  • Jenn Kali

    When I read this for the first time to my daughter, I quickly tossed it in the recycle bin. At face value, it’s not how I want to teach my children to treat animals. But looking deeper, it seems to resemble the slave trade. It’s sad because that mischievous monkey is a lot of fun.

  • Jessica

    Jenn, your comment raises a valuable point: Sometimes what we find objectionable in a book can be used to spark discussion, particularly with older kids. I’m not sure my kiddo is quite there yet. At 6, she takes everything at face value, making it difficult where a book uses irony, analogy, or other literary devices (like you suggest might be going on with Curious George). Then again, there are some books that are not worth the bother, no matter the age of the reader — in my book, for example, Good Night, Gorilla falls squarely in that category. Thanks for your thought-provoking comment.

  • Diane Vukovic

    I thought the recent Curious George movies were terrible. Okay, I actually didn’t get through them because I get really annoyed when Hollywood has to put a love story in every kid’s movie!

    If I remember correctly, I thought George was an orphan that the Man with the Yellow Hat “rescued” and took home…

    The PBS Curious George series is GREAT. It has lots of stuff about science and the environment. My daughter’s favorite episode is when they make compost (episode title: Mulch Ado About Nothing). For that, I can forgive the fact that monkeys need to be in the zoo!

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