We all grew up with children’s story books that used cute anthropomorphic characters and bright colors to impart cautionary advice or morality tales. One of the most beloved of these characters is Curious George, the mischievous monkey that wreaks havoc with his unbridled curiosity. Penned by H.A. and Margret Rey between 1941 and 1966, the escapades of Curious George hearken back to a simpler, more innocent time when the curiosity of monkeys was rewarded with movie contracts (Curious George Takes a Job) and trips into space (Curious George Gets a Medal).
However, in the 21st century, when satisfying your curiosity by simply checking out a book from the library can be used against you by the FBI, children need new messages and stronger reinforcements of long standing advice. To prepare children for the 21st century, 40 Foot Buffet proposes the following new titles for the Curious George series. As an added bonus for parents and educators, we’ve included an indication of the lesson learned or reinforced with each new title.
Curious George Meets a BTK Serial Killer – Having had his distrust of strangers diminished by the kindness of The Man in the Yellow Hat, Curious George befriends a local man who ends up being a “bind, torture and kill” or “BTK” serial killer. The BTK killer lures Curious George back to his basement by offering to put him in YouTube videos and to make him bigger than PewdiePie and TheDiamondMinecart combined. Curious George falls for this ploy, but is rescued at the last minute by The Man in the Yellow Hat and the FBI’s criminal profiling team.
Lessons Reinforced: Still don’t talk to strangers.
Curious George and International Diplomacy – In an unprecedented national political recall, remarkably Un-Curious Donald Trump is recalled and replaced with a lovably curious George as President and the Man in the Yellow Hat as Vice-President. Endearing himself to the world and spreading carefree laughter via his hilarious hijinks, Curious George works wonders in international diplomacy. He rejoins the Paris Accord; convinces Kim Jong Un to drop his nuclear weapons program in exchange for a hug; promises not to build any border walls; and gets the Palestinians and the Israelis to make nice once and for all. He also convinces England to give the Falkland Islands back to Argentina. Curious George wins a Noble Peace Prize, is voted Time magazine’s Man of the Year and marries Charlize Theron.
Lessons Learned: Democracy rocks; do unto others and you would have them do unto you; we are the world
Curious George Joins a Celebrity Reality TV Show – After a decade-long dry spell of adventures, Curious George joins a reality show staring other washed up, behind-the-times storybook characters. The cast includes a Star-Bellied Sneech, the Little Engine That Could (fresh off an endorsement gig for Viagra), Sister Berenstain Bear and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Curious George’s curiosity gets him into trouble as walks in on a naked Star-Bellie Sneech and the Little Engine That Could and also sneaks a peek at Sister Berenstain Bear’s diary. Curious George later uses information from Sister Berenstain Bear’s diary to get her voted off the show. Popular opinion of Curious George plummets, leading to another decade-long dry spell of work at the conclusion of the series.
Lessons Reinforced: Respect others’ privacy; play well with others
Curious George and the Phishing Scam – Curious George unwittingly gives the credit card number, date of birth and social security number of The Man in the Yellow Hat to a “phisher”. The Man in the Yellow Hat’s bank account is wiped out and his identity is stolen. Bitter, bankrupt and evicted from their home, The Man in the Yellow Hat and Curious George begin robbing liquor stores and gas stations along the Mid-Atlantic coast to make ends meet. After a shoot-out with Maryland State Troopers, The Man with the Yellow Hat is critically wounded, but George escapes to Mexico and lives out the rest of his life a fugitive from the law.
Lessons Learned: Only give out your personal information to trusted sources; keep monkeys away from computers
Curious George Has an Identity Crisis – After watching Bonzo goes to College and Planet of the Apes, Curious George begins to feel inadequate and unfulfilled, wondering why he can’t go to college, rule the planet and make out with Kim Hunter. Curious George enters intense psychotherapy, learns to love himself for who he is and realizes that sometimes a banana is just a banana.
Lesson Reinforced: Be true to yourself
Curious George Discovers “Gateway” Drugs – On a trip to the corner Kwik Stop for milk, bananas and a pack of smokes for The Man in the Yellow Hat, Curious George is offered a joint “on the house’ by Bubba, the local stoner and small-time drug dealer. Eventually getting bored with marijuana’s lethargy-inducing characteristics and gaining weight from constantly having the munchies, Curious George looks to harder drugs for his kicks. Cocaine, crystal meth and Ecstasy are all tried before Curious George gets hooked on heroin. After an intervention by The Man in the Yellow Hat, Curious George enters rehab with James Frey, author A Million Little Pieces, and eventually pens his own memoir of addiction and recovery, A Spanked Monkey: The Curious Habits of a Tragic Monkey. A literary feud develops between Frey and Curious George. Frey’s book is made a selection by Oprah’s Book Club, while Curious George’s book is short-listed for a National Book Award. The feud is later settled by a pay-per-view televised steel-cage wrestling match.
Lesson Reinforced: Say “no” to drugs – even if they are free.