Sunday, December 23, 2012

Curious Adventures with Curious George: 1941 Book and 21st Century

For a year-or-so I often refer to my 22 month year old son as our "quiet handful" (this inspired his 1 year birthday party being Charlie Chaplin themed).

So, it's not surprising that our curious little guy has found himself fascinated with Curious George. It started with enjoying the PBS kids Curious George, but really increased when he saw the 2006 Curious George movie (directed by Matthew O'Callaghan).

Soon the original 1941 Curious George book, written and illustrated by H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey, found itself in our kids bedroom.

The original story, like the movie, is in essence "an origin story" of a character who has been recreated in many settings by many authors and adapters over time.

And where the film plays off certain images from the book (i.e. Curious George hiding under the Man With The Yellow Hat's hat, or floating on balloons), contextual the story is changed, and for logical cultural reasons.

And in many ways, if I was thinking up ideas for a primary education thesis (or another related field), I might consider researching how characterizations of Curious George have changed with the way parents view and raise their children.

But in summary, reading the original story means:

1. That instead of Curious George being a stowaway on the boat continuing a game of peek-a-boo with The Man with the Yellow Hat (2006) he is captured (The Man with the Yellow Hat put out his hat to draw him out), stuffed in a bag and captured to be taken to a zoo.
From Curious George

2. That he smokes a pipe.

From Curious George
3. That he goes to Prison for making a false call to the fire department (of course, he manages away to allude the law with an escape plan, only a monkey could accomplish...involving walking on telephone wires).
From Curious George
My four year old always asks every time we read it (because of course, they love it), "What is prison?" and I struggle to explain it...especially in the context of the story.

Not quite sure if this presentation here makes me want to rush it back to the library or embrace it as a children's classic.


Loren Eaton said...

The Man With the Yellow Hat is also a poacher, which is delightfully politically incorrect.

Ironically, I'm typing this with my three-year-old on my lap after we got done watching the PBS version of Curious Geroge on the laptop. Good times.

Loren Eaton said...

"George," rather.