Curious George and Censorship

4 08 2008

Every spring and fall my parents scour their local library sale coming home with tons of books for very little money. The books are often library discards or donations. The money benefits the library and I should mention that they volunteer as well. Often my children benefit and receive piles of books. I love it and we have often found some gems this way. Although I’m running out of room I would never say no to a book. There have been a few times however that I have made certain books “disappear”. Case in point – Curious George by H.A. Rey. Somehow we just read this for the first time the other night.

Have you ever read Curious George? And I don’t mean Curious George does this that or the other, I mean plain Curious George from 1941. Allow me to summarize for you:

First the cute little monkey is captured by the man with the yellow hat who carries a gun on his back.

Curious George is then sailed across the ocean, only falling in once. Back on land again George is allowed to smoke a pipe after dinner.

He gets into a bit of trouble after accidentally placing a call to the fire department and is thrown in prison.

Don’t worry, he escapes.

He then goes on his famous balloon ride and is taken to a zoo to live out his days.

Does anyone else find this disturbing? I would also caution against Curious George Goes to the Hospital where George manages to get high and pass out from sniffing ether. Seriously. There’s a play by play of his trip in there. This book was also found not once, but twice through the same library sale. I have a feeling I know why these books were being discarded.

Now to be fair. We do own many, and I stress MANY, Curious George books written in the last 20 years and none of them have seemed bad in any way to me. In fact we enjoy many of them quite a bit and the first movie I took my son to was Curious George a couple years back. After all, Seth does have a bit of a curious streak in him.

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8 responses

4 08 2008
painted fish studio

the only curious george i remember is from the 2 books you mention. i remember the picture of him in the sack, and i remember the illustrations of him getting in trouble in the hospital. i thought they were wonderful, and never scary or suggestive and i turned out ok! (i think.)

4 08 2008
martha

that’s hilarious. we need to get this book -maybe we can have your copy?
it sounds like O has already read it anyway…..

5 08 2008
christina

Um, I think “Love You Forever” is the most disturbing kids book I’ve seen yet — creepy story about a mom with no personal boundaries. Then again, I love Edward Gorey and Charles Addams, so what do I know?

5 08 2008
Jenny

That’s hysterical! I have to think where I recently read an almost identical post to this one, about how disturbing the original curious george book is.

And, I love “Love You Forever”. For the record. I think it’s a sweet story!

6 08 2008
Anna Y

You ever read the really racist book Sambo about the darkie?? Looking back at it now I think omg how did that ever get printed but loved it as a kid. I wanted to live like a native (yes another word in the book). These books have been culled from libraries in Australia. Noddy has been sanitised if you care to look and Enid Blyton’s gollywog books are hard to find (loved them but may be it would be interesting rereading them from an adult now). Curious George hasn’t been around in Australia for that long so I have never seen the originals. I think the book is hilarious but probably wouldn’t read it to CT.

7 08 2008
Claudia

See, I’m french so I don’t really know curious George…well I know that it’s a monkey! But I agree it is a little disturbing

7 08 2008
Karen

I have not read the original Curious George but have read Curious George Goes to the Hospital. I agree, the newer versions are much better, and much more supportive of curiosity in general. In the hospital book, George is cautioned not to be “too curious”, as if it’s a bad thing. Now in modern times, George’s curiosity and experimentation is celebrated — as it should be — and things work out for him in the end. A much more positive message for today’s children.

8 08 2008
smoothpebble

yes, i’ve thought about how un-pc this book is. but i guess i decided it wasn’t so horrible because i read those stories to all of the boys, and nate especially got a kick out of curious george. so far they seem okay, but i’ll keep my eyes out for paint huffing and body piercings! ; )

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