Friday, October 13, 2006
This morning I was both home and relatively alert, and The Boy was at school, so The Girl decided to take the opportunity to have me read her approximately 1000 books, most of them about Curious George. The Girl LOVES Curious George. Her favorite word is “Again!,” so I've had a chance to reacquaint myself with CG's oeuvre.
For the uninitiated, Curious George books come in three epochs. The first, of course, is the original series, by H.A. Rey and (sometimes) Margaret Rey. These are quite good, but they tend to be long (48-64 pages) and politically incorrect. (In the first book of the series, George calms down before bed by smoking a pipe!) The second was a collection of much slimmer volumes published in the 1980's, taken directly from a cheaply-produced tv cartoon series. These are terrible. The pictures are washed-out, the language is without craft, and even the printing is cheap. The third is a surprisingly-good series by “Vipah Interactive,” whatever that is, published from the late 1990's to now.
The Girl is wild about the first and third series. This morning we read CG Goes to the Library, CG goes Camping, CG Wins a Medal, and CG Goes to the Beach, each one several times and to The Girl's unending delight. (Given the chance, she would have had me read more.) I think the appeal, other than the cuteness of the drawings, is the innocence of the chaos. CG invariably triggers an out-of-control series of events, but not maliciously, and he never gets in trouble. All is forgiven and CG is a hero. From The Girl's perspective, I'm guessing, it's a reassuringly safe adventure.
(Both The Girl and The Boy love The Monster at the End of This Book, starring Grover. I think the appeal there is that Grover gets visibly flustered, but there's no real conflict and it's played for laughs. Characters in children's books rarely show real emotion, so Grover's obvious over-the-top frustration is both funny and surprising. At least the first dozen times.)
Since The Boy started school, The Girl's language development has exploded. I think she was just waiting for her turn in the spotlight. Now that she has Mommy (and sometimes Daddy) to herself for extended periods, she needs a larger repertoire. It's fun to watch.
I'm going to make some more hot tea now...
It's a fascinating read by a true fan of Seuss. It deals with those issues of epoch and quality really well.
And thanks for the heads-up on Curious George -- I may use the example as another instance of the trademark problem when I adress it in my Pop Culture class.
She had/has a fairly serious learning disability, so she couldn't read it at all herself, but my other sister and I had read it to her so many times that she had MEMORIZED the whole thing.
I wrote a poem about it just before her 26th (!) birthday last month.
I have an original series CG that is signed by the author. My dad made the pipe thing more palatable by hinting that it contained weed. Funny to think that this was more politically correct than tobacco in the 70s!
I don't know why, but my boys weren't big Curious George fans. I was though!
Can it be that you have missed our current favorite, _Curious George Makes Pancakes_--with blueberries, yet. And thereby makes the hospital fundraising pancake breakfast a huge success? We read them as a series: Pancakes, Library, Camping. Pancakes, Library, Camping. Pancakes, Lib......
My favorite CG book is CG Gets a Job. I just love that one: the dishwashing, the paint job--it's great.
On a somewhat related note, I really liked the CG movie (so nice to see a non--obnoxious kids' movie), and I've liked what little I've seen of the new CG show on PBS.
My strongest memory of the book is of myself, nervous, in front of my kindergarten class, reading it to my classmates. The beginning of something, no doubt.
Does the girl read any Madeline? I loved the Madeline books, and the illustrations are fantastic.
"Alexander and his terrible horrible no good very bad day" is also good.