Curious George: Every Story Has a Beginning (Part 2)

May 7, 2012 Comments Off on Curious George: Every Story Has a Beginning (Part 2)

A continuation of yesterday’s post
H.A. Rey, the German-born creator of Curious George more than 100 years ago, was a master of episodic storytelling, and his original books possess a level of wit, ingenuity, and “meatiness” that the derivative stories published in the last 10 years don’t quite match, even if the illustrations give them a very close look and feel (I’m referring to the stories included in such newer anthologies as A Treasury of Curious George).

Every story has a beginning, and many don’t know that H.A. Rey’s very first book about Curious George was titled Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys (Ages 2.5-5). It’s a story about how George, still living in Africa with his brothers and sisters, came to live with (and befriend) a lonely giraffe named Cecily G. (who, incidentally, bears a striking similarity to the “Sophie the Giraffe” rattle that’s become something of a fashion accessory to today’s urban baby set). It turns out that when you’re a monkey, playing with a giraffe affords all kinds of unusual delights: you can ski down her neck, parachute off her head with an umbrella, and even sail on her back.

Like all good relationships, there’s give and take, and when Cecily’s house nearly burns down, it’s the monkeys who act as firefighters, climbing up her neck with a hose to extinguish the flames and save the day. While there are several stylistic differences between the Cecily book and the other original Curious George stories (for one, George “talks” in the former), it’s an immensely enjoyable read with a lot of heart. But hey, when your past life involves riding a giraffe on stilts, is it any wonder that your adjustment to big city life is a big, um, challenging? (Bonus: in the back of the 2007 edition is an entertaining afterward about how H.A. Rey came up with the idea for Curious George and got published: inspiration for your aspiring novelist!)

My Other Favorites of the Original Curious George Books:
Curious George Goes to the Hospital (Ages 3-6)
Curious George Rides a Bike (Ages 3-6)
Curious George Takes a Job (Ages 3-6)
Curious George Flies a Kite (Ages 3-6)

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