Fuse #8

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Oldie But Goodie Review of the Day: Curious George

What with the movie of Curious George out and about, I figured that I'd reawaken my old review of the book. Enjoy or disregard, however you see fit.




The world's most famous literary monkey. I hadn't read "Curious George" in years, and I was admittedly a little hesitant to do so when I saw the copyright date. 1941. Now due to the fact that George is originally from Africa, I had a sneaking fear and suspicion that there would be some terrible racist images to contend with. Imagine my surprise when I found that, as it happens, not a single horrid stereotype appears! Just the same, I have to point out that at the same time not a single positive stereotype appears either. This is a book bereft of people with skin that isn't white as newly driven snow. Bear this in mind.

Curious George does his darndest to live up to his name. A naughty little monkey, he is swiftly captured in Africa by the Man in the Yellow Hat (one prays he's no relation to "Tuck Everlasting"'s Man in the Yellow Suit). George is taken from his jungle paradise en route to the zoo. Along the way, George has a series of wild adventures. He takes a dip in the ocean (throwing up an amazing amount of saltwater and fish while he's rescued). He calls the fire department and is jailed. He escapes and flies around, balloons in hand. In the end, George is reunited with the Man in the Yellow Hat (who, despite the damage George has inflicted on the world and its civil servants, compensates only the balloon man). In the final parting shot of George, the monkey is happily ensconced in his new zoo life with the caption, "What a nice place for George to live!" This is definitely a pro-zoo book.

Personally, I've always been kind of taken with The Man in the Yellow Hat. Who the heck is this guy? Apparently he's a jaunty world adventurer with a penchant for monkeys. Most interesting is his striking resemblance to the pop on "Father Knows Best", pipe stuck squarely between his teeth, wise countenance advising his monkey ward. He isn't the best monkey watcher. Some might even argue that he's a bit lax in his attention, but he gets the job done. And you just gotta love the hat. Faaaabulous hat, yellow guy. All in all, it's a fine story. For kids who're interested in either monkeys or fiascos, this is a good monkey/fiasco tale. I'm a fiasco fan myself, so this book suits me fine. It's not, admittedly, my favorite but it has its charms.

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