Humor

Curious George: Not Quite What I Remembered

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Having adored Curious George since a young girl, I immediately jumped on board my daughter’s newest obsession with his stories. I fondly remembered so many of little George’s constant mischiefs and the way things somehow worked themselves out in the end. However, I had no recollection of how many non kid like excerpts his stories contained. No children’s publisher would dare stock the shelves with some of H. A. Rey’s books had they been written in this decade.

For example, in Curious George Gets a Medal, George is locked in a cage for causing destruction at the museum. He is described as being “so ashamed he almost wished he were dead. “

"He felt so ashamed he almost wished he were dead. "
“He felt so ashamed he almost wished he were dead. “

Wait!! Dead?! Did I really just read that to my three year old??? I look and see her eyes wide as saucers. “Oh, um, I mean George felt really sad!” 

My biggest smiles come from the very first Curious George book. I knew George came from the jungle. I forgot how he was in fact captured against his own will and forced to leave his home.

"The man picked him up quickly and popped him into a bag. George was caught."
“The man picked him up quickly and popped him into a bag. George was caught.”

Once on board the boat the man was kind enough to let George free, and expose him to second hand smoke right off the bat.

"On the big ship, things began to happen."
“On the big ship, things began to happen.”

Well, he already experienced it second hand, might as well let him have his own puff.

"After a good meal and a good pipe George felt very tired."
“After a good meal and a good pipe George felt very tired.”

I could not help but laugh at what was considered the norm in teaching children back in 1941 compared to today. I think I am sounding like my grandparents’ generation now, but. . . my how times have changed!

What comes to mind when you think about how much different we are now from that day? Do you think things have changed for the better, the worse? No right or wrong answer, just want to hear your thoughts about it!

Still love the little monkey? Click both here and here for some great activities for you and your little ones to explore!

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51 thoughts on “Curious George: Not Quite What I Remembered

  1. Cool! I’ll have to check out the activities! I love Curious George lol. We don’t want a lot of TV, but I do put the cartoon on for my daughter sometimes when I’m trying to cook or get stuff done around the house!

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  2. Hahaha! Oh, how very right you are, my dear! My own grandsons love Tom and Jerry… yet something is very, very wrong with the politically incorrect Mammy figure and the number of times guns and explosives are used in a comedic sense. Since when is getting your head blown off funny, anyway? Ohhhhhh my goodness. Seriously???? Then there is the Bugs Bunny episode where Daffy commits suicide at the end…! It is enough to chill the blood of a 21st century parent (or, in this case, grandparent). On the one hand, it makes me wonder how I survived childhood. On the other hand, I watched these things all the time and never had the desire to play with guns or blow anyone up, and clearly I am still alive to tell the tale. Perhaps the world is that much crazier today it is harder for young ones to sort out what is and is not fiction. In any case, I agree completely. The mixed up and politically incorrect world of the past has changed both for the better and for the worse. It all depends on how you look at it.

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    1. Awww, I am SO glad you brought these shows back to my memory!! I had completely forgotten about them, but now that you mention it I very much remember Daffy’s awful scene!

      I too do not feel like they really influenced my behavior growing up, but who really knows? 🙂 You are right–there are both good and bad in each generation. How fun it is to study each one!

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  3. This is my daughters current obsession! It was Cat in the Hat for months…now Curios George. I was never big on George when I was little…so we are having fun exploring together. =)

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  4. We recently unearthed a huge volume of the original Curious George stories from Hubby’s childhood and I’ve been reading them to my 2- and 3-year-old. Aack! I either explain why what George is doing is dangerous or naughty, or skip over it. The pipe is an issue, though, because we have a few family members who smoke them. I would be mortified if my two-year-old told Uncle that smoking was “disgusting and very bad for you.” LOL!

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    1. Anna, is it not so interesting to see how different we have become in such a short amount of time? Who knows what things we say and do that our own grandchildren will gawk at some day! 🙂

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  5. Old cartoons, story books or movies are never really the way we remember them from our childhood :p I’m sure our kids will be saying the same thing 20 years from now when they rewatch Ben Ten or something!

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  6. As an adult it’s fun to look back at the incredibly offensive things that used to pass for children’s literature. The early Nancy Drew books were SO bigoted and misogynistic. And yet I still love them. I guess we make allowances sometimes. But I’d be pretty upset to see a book published today with that kind of stuff in it!

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    1. Oh, I was completely in love with Nancy Drew!! It has been such a long time though that I do not remember the offenses. Probably much like I did not remember George with a pipe! 🙂

      I completely agree with you though, there is something so forgiving about them!

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  7. Whoa! That’s so interesting! I wonder if the author was meaning to entertain kids instead of educate them? Now, most books have a moral or lesson in them. Even cartoons. But it seems like the classics are just entertaining. I wonder what effect it will have on our children. So fascinating!!! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I never thought of it that way but it seems you are right. I do not really find too much teaching lessons with George other than don’t let your curiosity get the best of you.Sometimes I wonder if they will in fact influence my daughter to go climb up the museum’s dinosaur herself! 🙂

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  8. I’m still laughing at the pipe and smoking – that is really funny – I mean not funny at all. 🙂 I don’t remember those Curious George stories – I must have read later versions. The only book I loved as a child that has stayed true to memory is “The Rainbow Goblins” by Ul de Rico. I think that’s because of the illustrations.
    Thank you for this post!

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    1. The pipe is definitely my favorite. Lucky for me, I do not think my daughter has any idea what it is! 🙂 I have not heard of “The Rainbow Gobblins.” Does it contain anything which reveals its dating?

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      1. It describes how the Rainbow Goblins (Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet) attempt to capture a rainbow in the Valley of the Rainbow. It was published in 1979, but the setting is so mystical that it is timeless. The illustrations never cease to amaze me.

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  9. The one that did it for me was Berenstain Bears. My daughter loves these books but some of the hidden messages are pretty terrible. Also, The Giving Tree. Often lauded as the gold standard of love, in reality, it is a heartbreaking tale of codependency. I often wonder if the author wrote it from a place of deep hurt.

    Either way, glad to see that there are other parents out there who can’t believe their eyes with old children’s books.

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  10. I was thinking this very thing as I read nursery rhymes to my two-year-old the other night…whipped them all soundly? Beat the knave full sore?? Wow. Funny how things so innocent as a kid takes on a whole new meaning as an adult! Oh, and Pippi Longstocking (did anyone else watch that as a kid?)…best show ever back then, horrible now! But I have to admit, that Curious George is still pretty darn cute. 🙂

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  11. I took my kids out to pizza last week. The pizza parlor had one of those old arcade games (with the controls on the front). Instead of reaching for the controls, my two year old son tries to swipe his finger on the screen.. 🙂

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  12. Wow! I have loved this blast from the past! Curious George, Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Pippy Longstocking… I feel like I’m re-living Saturday morning cartoons all over again. It’s wonderfully nostalgic. 🙂 I do think the world has changed… Both for the better and worse in different ways. I’m glad our books are a bit more careful about the messages they teach. With life being so busy, it is so nice when a book for entertainment can double as a lesson for life. Thanks for the post, Sasha! 🙂

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    1. Marla, the comments are probably my favorite thing about posting a new blog. It is so fun when you put so many different minds together. I have been thoroughly entertained by all these old memories! 🙂

      I agree, both good and bad seems to be found in every generation. I did not think about how authors today do try to put a great lesson with their stories. As a mom, I definitely like this! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. We love Curious George at our house! I think “George” was one of the first words my two-year-old learned to say – ha! But you’re right… times have definitely changed. I find myself thinking that every time my kids are surfing through NetFlix… I don’t like any of the new cartoons, and wish the old ones were still around!

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    1. The Curious George cartoon is actually really cute in case you have not seen it yet. It should be a definite win for your George loving family–no smoking pipes episodes either. 🙂

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  14. Ha! I have had exactly the same experiences reading my children stories that I read as a child – like almost any fairy tale, and Enid Blyton books omg 😳 I definitely don’t want to go back to the days of casual sexism and racism, but things haven’t all improved as we well know.

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    1. Yes, sadly, even though our children’s literature does not teach it, the battle wages on. However, when I see how far we have come in such a short amount of time, it gives me hope my children’s generation not know this same battle.

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  15. Oh gosh, I was totally unaware about all of those details! I remember reading Curious George growing up, but I don’t remember the smoking or the “monkey-napping.” You’re right–I guess times have really changed…

    It’s interesting to note though, in Japan you’ll still see a lot of references to drinking and smoking in cartoons/games for children. I translate things from Japanese to English for a living, and whenever I come across these kinds of things I have to replace the bottle of beer with juice and the cigarette with a lollipop, etc. I guess the US has become a lot more strict these days compared to when George was first published.

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  16. I had the same reaction when I bought The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein for my nephew. I didn’t realize it was about a tree that gave and gave and gave until it had nothing left

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    1. Another person mentioned this in the comments. He stated “I often wonder if the author wrote it from a place of deep hurt.” I have definitely heard of the book but never read it myself. Now I am much too curious not to!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh my! I haven’t picked up a Curious George book in awhile! Some of those old Tom and Jerry cartoons were pretty violent. A lot of the fairy tales and nursery rhymes are violent/dark too.

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    1. Melissa, it is funny the things you pay no attention to until you have kids of your own!! I have been shocked by so many of the nursery rhythms I have been reading to my kids. There are definitely ones I skip over. 🙂 Luckily, my two do not know who Tom and Jerry are yet. 😉

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