Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Classic Nick Wed. – Curious George

Classic Nick Wed. – Curious George
April 10, 2013

Curious George is known in many different countries by many different names.  In Spanish-speaking countries he’s known as "Jorge el Curioso". In Germany he’s known as "Coco". In Finland people know him as "Utelias Vili" while those in Norway call him "Nysgjerrige Nils". Italians call him "Curioso come George" in Denmark he’s "Peter Pedal". in Sweden he’s "Nicke Nyfiken" and in Israel "Choni Ha'Sakran". But no matter what name he goes by Americans know and love him as “Curious George”, the sweet little monkey who love to explore the world around him. 

The books, written by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey, he is featured as a curious brown monkey named George, who is brought from his home in Africa by "The Man with The Yellow Hat" to live with him in a big city but George wasn’t “born” with that name.

When the first story, “Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys” was published in France in 1939, George was named Fifi can you imagine calling him that now I know I can’t. Then in 1941 in the United Kingdom, George was originally called "Zozo", apparently to avoid using the name of the then King George VI for a monkey.

The series was written and drawn by the team of Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey. The couple fled Paris in June 1940 on self-made bicycles, carrying the Curious George manuscript with them. At first only H. A. Rey was credited for the work in order to distinguish the Reys' books from the large number of children's books written by female authors. Later, Hans Rey was credited for the illustrations and Margret Rey for the writing. The Reys produced many other children's books, but the Curious George series was the most popular. The books have been re-edited continuously in the six decades since the first volume came out. The current United States publisher is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt of Boston.

"Original Adventures" Curious George appeared in 1941. This book begins with George living in Africa and tells the story of his capture by the Man with the Yellow Hat, who takes him on a ship to "the big city" where he will live in the zoo. The second book, Curious George Takes a Job (1947), begins with George living in the zoo, from which he escapes and has several adventures before the Man with the Yellow Hat finds him and takes George to live at his house. The remaining stories tell of George's adventures while living at the house of the Man with the Yellow Hat.

For those of us who were/are Pinwheel fans (which aired from 1979-1990) you may remember Curious George as one of the “Pinwheel Cartoons” but then beginning in 1980 there was a series of animated TV films featuring George and “The Man”, which were then adapted into books themselves this series was produced and co-written by Alan Shalleck. Then on September 4, 2006 a new Curious George TV series debuted on PBS Kids as part of PBS Kids Preschool Block. Then in 1984 two stop-motion animated shorts were made from Curious George stories with puppet-figures by noted animator John Clark Matthews (who later used a similar technique for his films of Frog and Toad).

On February 10, 2006 an animated film was released featured Will Ferrell as the voice of the originally unnamed Man With the Yellow Hat who is now referred to as "Ted". Some believe they chose the name “Ted” from an open-the-flap book titled "See the Circus," which was published January 1, 1956. H. A. Rey illustrated a man who looks very much like the Man with the Yellow Hat wearing a blue and white polka-dotted kerchief. The caption for the page reads, "Ted has a tricycle, so very small, He cannot ride it, because he's so tall. If you want to find out WHO the rider will be, Just open the flap, and then you will see." Opening the flap reveals two monkeys riding a tricycle.

Today Curious George is a staple among young readers everywhere and with an increasing growth in popularity he can be seen in everything from books, to clothing and to stuffed animals. There has also been a live touring show (which is no longer touring) and a video game that was released on February 2, 2006, published by Namco and developed by Monkey Bar Games, a division of Vicious Cycle Software.

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