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Comments for Curious George and the Hot Air Balloon

Curious George and the Hot Air BalloonCurious George and the Hot Air Balloon: 06/22/07

The Curious George stories are so formulaic that any one can tell a story in style of of Margret and H. A. Rey. The Man in the Yellow Hat (TMYH) has a chore, job, business trip, etc that takes him and of course George somewhere new. TMYH of course then is called away on some emergency or has to leave for some reason, leaving George to his own devices. After an initial series of goof-ups, everything works out for George and he ends up a better monkey for the ordeal.

The original series that can actually be credited to Margret and H. A. Rey is a very short list from all the titles bearing their name:

  • Curious George (1941)
  • Curious George Takes a Job (1947)
  • Curious George Rides a Bike (1952)
  • Curious George Gets a Medal (1957)
  • Curious George Flies a Kite (1958)
  • Curious George Learns the Alphabet (1963)
  • Curious George Goes to the Hospital (1966)

These initial stories are rather appalling. George is not the loveable monkey that he is remembered as and TMYH is a strange authoritarin figure that is part abusive parent, part master and part kidnapper. In the flurry of books since those initial seven, TMYH has softened as a character and has ended up more like soft spoken David Seville than a "bring it back alive" adventurer. By the current incarnation after the 2005 film, TMYH is actually loveable and caring (shown making numerous attempts to find day care for George whenever he's away).

In all of these changes, the original authors are still credited, to the point that the modern versions bear their names and the name of the company contracted to actually make the books (story board and illustrate is the way their website describes their roll in creating the books). I find it odd and sad that the current people working on the books receive no credit for their work. It may be a committee or a single person. I have no idea. George has gone from a disturbed monkey to a commodity.

So that brings me to Curious George and the Hot Air Balloon. In this adventure, George finds himself carried away by a hot air balloon. After nearly getting lost, nearly crashing and so forth, he manages to rescue a ranger and becomes the hero of the day. It's a fairly typical and vanilla plot from the most current incarnation. For children who enjoy the movie and the PBS cartoon, it's a cute book. My only wish is that the publisher would have the balls to say who actually wrote and illustrated it.

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