Curious George (book)

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Curious George
First edition cover
AuthorMargret Rey
H. A. Rey
CountryUnited States
SeriesCurious George
GenreChildren's literature
PublisherHoughton Mifflin
Publication date
Media typePrint
Followed byCurious George Takes a Job 

Curious George is a children's book written and illustrated by Margret Rey and H. A. Rey, and published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941.[1] It is the first book in the Curious George series and tells the story of an orphaned monkey named George and his adventures with the Man with the Yellow Hat.[2]


The idea for Curious George came from an earlier Rey work, Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys. One of the characters in that story is Curious George. Margret and Rey then decided to create a book entirely focused on Curious George, which was an instant success. However, Margret Rey's name did not appear on early copies of Curious George because the publisher felt that children's literature was too dominated by women.[2]


The story opens with George, a little orphaned brown monkey, in the jungle of Africa. An unnamed man in a large yellow straw hat observes him through his binoculars and decides to bring the monkey home with him. He puts his hat on the ground and hides behind a tree. George, ever curious, comes down from the tree "to look at the large yellow hat." He puts the hat on but it is so large that he could not see and this gives the man in the yellow hat the chance to capture him and put him in a bag. The Man takes George to his cruise ship where he tells him that he is taking him to a zoo in a big city and that he will like it there. He then gives George the run of the ship and tells him not to get into trouble. On deck, George sees some seagulls, tries to fly with them, and falls overboard. Luckily, the crew notices that George is missing, and spot him in the Atlantic Ocean. They throw him a lifesaver and pull him aboard.

When they arrive in America, George is taken to the Man's house, has a meal, smokes a pipe, then goes to bed. The next day, after seeing the Man, the Man makes a telephone call to the zoo before leaving. George wants to telephone too. So plays with the telephone. But then he inadvertently calls the fire station. When the firefighters hear the call, they rush to the telephone and hear no answer. Then they look at the map that shows them where the telephone call had come from. They do not notice that it is George and think it is a real fire. Then they get on their fire trucks quickly. But when they rush to the house, all they find is no fire but a naughty monkey (and it is George). Then a skinny firefighter and a fat firefighter both grab the monkey. And they arrest him for the false alarm and put him in jail. They tell George that since he fooled the fire department, he is going to have to be shut where he can't do any more harm of himself. Now George is given an indefinite year sentence in jail.

George attempts to climb out through the window, but there are bars. At that moment, a watchman comes in and climbs on a wooden bed to reach George. The watchman however is so heavy that the bed tips over and pins him against the wall. This stalls him and buys George the time to run out the open door and escape. He then climbs over the guard in front of the jail on the telephone wires. Out in the street, he spots a balloon vendor and tries to grab a balloon, but ends up grabbing the entire bunch and flying off into the air. He is carried by the breeze until it stops, leaving George on top of a traffic signal, making the traffic mixed up. The Man finds him there, buys all the balloons from the street vendor, and finally takes George to his new home at the zoo, where each animal gets its own balloon.

About the authors[edit]

Main articles: Margret Rey and H. A. Rey

Margret Elizabeth Rey (May 16, 1906 – December 21, 1996) and her husband Hans Augusto "H.A." Rey (September 16, 1898 – August 26, 1977) met each other in Brazil and then moved to Paris. After moving several places to escape the Nazis, they settled down in New York.[3][4] It was here that they wrote Curious George and seven other books about him including Curious George Takes a Job, which won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1960. The Reys then moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1963, in a house near Harvard Square, and lived there until Hans's death in 1977. A children's bookstore named Curious George & Friends (formerly Curious George Goes to Wordsworth) was started in the 1990s by friends of the Reys, and operated in the Square until 2011.[5] A new store opened in 2012 at the same address, called The World's Only Curious George Store - Harvard Square.


  1. ^ Curious George on
  2. ^ a b History of Curious George
  3. ^ " News, By Mark Feeney Globe Staff". The Boston Globe. September 17, 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
  4. ^ "New York Times, By Dinitia Smith". The New York Times. September 13, 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
  5. ^ " Culture Desk, By Doug Most". The Boston Globe. June 6, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-29.