The first adventure in this highly popular series tells how the little monkey Curious George, caught in the jungle and brought back to the city by a man in a yellow hat, can't help being interested in all the new things around him. Though well meaning, George's curiosity always gets him into trouble. Young readers can easily relate, and Rey's cheerful illustrations celebrate Curious George's innocence.
Hans Augusto Rey was born on September 16, 1898, in Hamburg, Germany. He grew up there near the world-famous Hagenbeck Zoo, and developed a lifelong love for animals and drawing. Margarete Elisabeth Waldstein (who would be known to most of the world as Margret Rey) was also born in Hamburg on May 16, 1906. The two met briefly when Margret was a young girl, before she left Hamburg to study art. They were reunited in 1935 in Rio de Janeiro, where Hans was selling bathtubs as part of a family business and Margret was escaping the political climate in Germany. Margret convinced Hans to leave the family business, and soon they were working together on a variety of projects.
Hans and Margret were married in Brazil on August 16, 1935, and they moved to Paris after falling in love with the city during their European honeymoon. It was there that Hans published his first children’s book, after a French publisher saw his newspaper cartoons of a giraffe and asked him to expand upon them. Raffy and the Nine Monkeys (Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys in the British and American editions) was the result, and it marked the debut of a mischievous monkey named Curious George.
After Raffy and the Nine Monkeys was published, the Reys decided that Curious George deserved a book of his own, so they began work on a manuscript that featured the lovable and exceedingly curious little monkey. But the late 1930s and early ’40s were a tumultuous time in Europe, and before the new manuscript could be published, the Reys—both German Jews—found themselves in a horrible situation. Hitler and his Nazi party were tearing through Europe, and they were poised to take control of Paris.
Knowing that they must escape before the Nazis took power, Hans cobbled together two bicycles out of spare parts. Early in the morning of June 14, 1940, the Reys set off on their bicycles. They brought very little with them on their predawn flight — only warm coats, a bit of food, and five manuscripts, one of which was Curious George. The Nazis entered Paris just hours later, but the Reys were already on their way out. They rode their makeshift bicycles for four long days until reaching the French-Spanish border, where they sold them for train fare to Lisbon. From there they made their way to Brazil and on to New York City, beginning a whole new life as children’s book authors.
Curious George was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941, and for sixty years these books have been capturing the hearts and minds of readers throughout the world. All the Curious George books, including the seven original stories by Margret and Hans, have sold more than twenty-five million copies. So popular that his original story has never been out of print, George has become one of the most beloved and recognizable characters in children’s literature. His adventures have been translated into many languages, including Japanese, French, Afrikaans, Portuguese, Swedish, German, Chinese, Danish, and Norwegian.
Although both of the Reys have passed away — Hans in 1977 and Margret in 1996—George lives on in the Curious George Foundation. Established in 1989, this foundation funds programs for children that share Curious George’s irresistible qualities—ingenuity, opportunity, determination, and curiosity in learning and exploring. Much consideration is given to programs that benefit animals, through preservation as well as the prevention of cruelty to animals. The foundation supports community outreach programs that emphasize the importance of family, from counseling to peer support groups.
Book Review 4 of 5 stars to Curious George by H.A. Rey, a children's author, who wrote this series starting in 1941. Who didn't love Curious George when they were a child? Or even now as an adult? So many fun memories of this wonderful little monkey. In this first book, George comes home for the first time, and the infamous yellow coat becomes a hallmark. He's so innocent, yet such a magnet for bad things to happen. But aren't all monkeys? An adorable way to teach kids to ask questions, but only up to a point, and sometimes... not knowing is better than knowing. I love reading these books to my younger cousins, seeing their eyes light up at all the adventures. And when I taught in a daycare one summer, it was our morning read every day... what was the minky doing? They couldn't say "monkey" easily. Such fun memories...
FYI - Wrote this review ~2017 from memory as I want to have a review for everything I remember reading. If I messed it up, let me know! LOL :)
About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Yikes this... has not aged well. I'm glad there are happier sequels and that the movie and TV shows gave it some much needed updates. There's some glimmer of heart in this first one but also a lot of bad bad things.
Unpopular opinion: I keep reading this book, and it just doesn’t make any sense. While I was commenting on the continuity errors, the child I was reading to came up with a great one: Why are firefighters arresting a monkey? Even a four-year-old’s suspension of disbelief will only cover actual police officers arresting wild animals. At least if you ad lib your way through the book, it can become a great cautionary tale about why animal trafficking really doesn’t benefit anyone.
“Este es Jorge. Jorge vivía en Africa. Era un monito bueno Y muy, muy curioso.”
Read this for homeschooling Spanish time.
This translated really well in the Spanish language. I didn’t know the Curious Jorge origin or the year of publication (1941) So while we were reading this I had to remember that it was written in 1941 because all of a sudden a monkey is getting kidnapped from Africa and while he is causing trouble he decides to smoke a pipe. My kids and I laughed but is it funny nowadays? Probably not but seeing Gregory Peck or James Stewart smoking isn’t that weird either. It was just the time.
Typical curious Jorge getting into trouble is hilarious. He is such a troublemaker and finds his way out. In this original story he is actually taken to the zoo and doesn’t live with the man in the yellow hat. Interesting origins and fun facts to know.
What is it about this monkey that so enthralls readers? This introductory story by Rey is not terribly memorable or particularly exciting, yet the kids are drawn to it, I absolutely love it and my niece - a first time reader/listener - was mesmerized.
For those who forget what happens in this first Curious George book, a poacher the Man With The Big Yellow Hat captures George in the wild, illegally keeps him in his city apartment, smokes a pipe with him, neglects to give him proper care so that George goes bad and ends up in prison, and then gets transported to the zoo, a slightly less dreary internment.
As you see, it's a mean streets existence for our little simian friend.
He's taken from one jungle and forced into another. The society he inhabits changes, but his habits within society do not. George, you see, is curious. Some would call it his one great failing. He likes to check things out and that gets him into trouble. If it weren't for his curiosity he never would've been captured in the first place. And that right there is why we become entranced by Curious George.
But why the fascination in the first place? Why did my niece see the cover of this book and decide "this one!"? My guess is that, well, who doesn't love a monkey? In the past, when Emma has done something silly and flopped about all crazy like kids do, I would occasionally call her a monkey. So I think she just was curious to see what her brethren were up to. These days she also has a strong interest in chickenbutt and getting people people to answer "what" to her question "Guess what?!". Rest assured, I am doing yoeman's work in the uncle department. But I digress...
Other than that she liked it, Emma didn't have much to say about Curious George when we finished, yet she was riveted the whole way through. Heck, I didn't even do funny voices and her eyes were still glued to the pages. I have no doubt she'll want to return to the adventures of Curious George in the future and I will be happy to! George is my dawg! He was my favorite stuffed animal as a child. I carried him all the way up a mountain in a tiny backpack as boy no older than 4-year-old Emma, because I couldn't bare to leave him behind. George and I were inseparable and I wouldn't be surprised if he found a new bestie in my niece.
Where it all began with a curious monkey! A man travels to Africa to find a monkey for the big city zoo. He finds one, trapping George, and begins the journey back. From the early stages, it's curiosity that almost killed the monkey when he went overboard on a ship back to 'home'. Once in the big city, George discovers that sometimes being curious can be a little too much, especially when the fire department gets a call. A great beginning to a beloved series that Neo has come to love. Neo did quite enjoy this book, but wondered how the Man with the Yellow Hat knew George's name right off the bat. It would seem that he wanted to know how the 'George' name came up, but that was not discussed. Either way, he was interested in the story and the illustrations, nothing like the computer generated ones from books nowadays. A great start to a sensational series!
Another book placed on the shelf of childhood. How many times did I do things like Curious George that turned out to be (in hindsight) not the best possible choice? When I was a preteen all the boys in my neighborhood did some pretty DUMB things (the girls had more common sense) like 'sword fights' with tree branches, rock throwing fights, throwing kitchen knives at the fence, sling shots...how lucky we all were that no one got hurt (badly). Just like George we all had to learn that most important of lessons - curiosity can make a monkey out of you - especially if mom catches you!
Here's a book I hadn't thought about for several decades, recently brought to my attention by Jack, a three-year-old friend who met me at his door, book in hand, wanting to be read to. "Ah! Curious George," I said, immediately remembering and wanting very much to be reminded of the times it had been read to me in early childhood.
As it happens, the book is dreadful by any adult, twenty-first century standards. The story is horrific for what it accepts: a jungle monkey is tricked by a white man, kidnapped and taken across the sea, destined for a zoo. By misadventure he escapes into the foreign city, has dangerous adventures, then is "rescued" to spend the rest of his days in happy captivity. --Just about as politically incorrect as one can imagine and, besides, the art is poor...
Still, Jack, working by his own standards, liked the story, identifying presumably with the curious monkey, with the trouble such curiousity can lead to and with the resolution of all the excitement in the confines of a safe home.
--All of which makes me wonder if many studies have been done of the books children prefer as opposed to the books parents prefer to give to their children...
One of the kids I work with really loves Curious George, and, with that typical little-kid curiosity, never gets tired of being read the same books a million times or watching the same films a million times. So I’ve watched a lot of Curious George, and I’ve read a lot of Curious George, and the inside of my brain is yellow and sad, or something; well, it’s a cute story, if you turn off your awareness of the actual world, and pretend that poaching isn’t a thing and the exotic pet trade is totally chill and anthropomorphism is fun instead of dangerous. I’ve been charmed a few times myself, but at this point I’m so goddamn sick of Curious George.
I’m a professional killer of joy and ruiner of fun, so I think applying a critical eye to children’s books is a diverting activity instead of weird and pretentious. The Wind in the Willows is about a deeply racist, misogynistic, nationalist nostalgia for pre-civil rights days; The Jungle Book is pro-imperialist coloniser nonsense. And Curious George is many things: portraying abusive relationships as cute and heartwarming, victim-blaming children, reinforcing racist stereotypes, smoothing down things like illegal poaching and the exotic pet trade which result in hundreds if not thousands of animals abused and killed each year. The plot is fairly straightforward: a man wearing a yellow hat visits the jungle, captures a young monkey, brings the monkey back with him to a major city, keeps the monkey in his apartment without proper housing and food and enrichment, neglects the monkey to the point that the monkey escapes onto the streets of the city. Finally, he is ‘rescued’: brought back to captivity, but a captivity he knows.
‘If enough things happen to you,’ reads one of my favourite dark parodies of Curious George, ‘you can learn to love something just for being familiar.’ Apart from being a story of a kidnapping, Curious George is also a deeply troubling story of the dangers of anthropomorphism. Although the narrative portrays George as having human emotions, an understanding of English, comprehension of things like human morals and rules—this is anthropomorphism, and it easily becomes harmful both to human and non-human animal. A monkey is not a human being, no matter how much someone thinks it is or wants it to be; similarly, a human is not a monkey, and never will be able to be. Forcing a wild animal into human society is not only dangerous, it’s also cruel. And the narrative punishes George for something beyond his control: he is curious. He is a monkey, who does not know intimately what humans can and will do to wild animals they want to keep, and he is punished for it. If it weren’t for his innate curiosity, after all, he never would have been caught in the first place.
This is a book I loved as a child that I hadn't read in a long time! It's an iconic character, and brings up some valuable topics for children. There were a number of books in the series, but the first one was on point, and still a favorite to have (parents and teachers) today.
Listen, George: first things first, I love your work. I've listened to all of your books. Your antics are delightful, you're cute as a button, and I aspire to get up to as much mischief as you do someday. But can we talk about your "friend"--the Man in the Yellow Hat? Lest we forget, all of your adventures, delightful as they may be, started when the Man KIDNAPPED YOU FROM YOUR HOME AND TOOK YOU AWAY FROM EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING YOU HAD EVER KNOWN. I just find it strange that you guys are buds now. I mean, has he ever apologized? You two seem to have kind of a weird relationship. If you need help, give me some kind of signal. My parents are lawyers, they'll make a call or something.
Anyway, five stars for you, one star for the Man in the Yellow Hat, we'll settle on 3. XOXO, -M
George, who is happily living "in Africa," is captured by a man in his eponymous yellow hat to take him to a zoo. This is all in the first few pages and is a strange basis for their famous friendship--is friendship what Stockholm syndrome creates?--in the subsequent books. George also smokes, is imprisoned for playing with the phone, and ends the book smiling in the zoo. What were parents like that this became a popular children's book?
I feel torn in my review for this book. As a child, I read several of these books, and enjoyed them because as so many children were, I was blissfully unaware of poaching/kidnapping - which is basically what the man in the yellow hat does to George.
There is nothing mentioned of the danger of owning a chimpanzee (was the thing with Travis the chimp really over a decade ago now? Daaaaamn) but then this book was published in the 1940s, which was... really a different time in more ways than one.
So I will refrain from giving this book 1 star out of fairness, but I also would not recommend this as a children's book nowadays, at least not without a serious talk with the child about poaching, the exotic animal trade, et. al.
My 5 yr old is really loving Curious George books right now. And for all the Curious George books out there, they actually have pretty good story lines. What I mean is, sometimes when a character has been commercialized, the books change in tone. I'm guessing these were written before the T.V. show. I did a little reading on Rey and it turns out they came up with Curious George many years ago, while escaping Nazi's in Paris. After their death, Curious George was taken over by the Curious George Foundation, so that's what I mean by character integrity. Sometimes when taken over by someone else, especially after they get so commercialized with T.V. and products, they change. From all of these I've seen so far, these are still pretty good.
I've been making my son read on his own more and more, to give me some time to have lessons with the twins, and it's been working wonderfully. I don't care so much as what the book is about than the reading level. And this one is probably a good level 2 book. He enjoyed it a lot, and was able to answer all my questions, so I know he read the whole thing.
I will never understand why this book and its progeny have been so well loved for over seventy years. (H.A. and Margaret Rey apparently escaped Nazi-occupied France on homemade bicycles with the manuscript for Curious George.)
The Man with the Yellow Hat travels to Africa, entices George with his hat, catches him, "pop[s] him into a bag," and ultimately takes him to live in a zoo. Despite capturing him from the wild to take him to a zoo, the Man with the Yellow Hat is referred to as George's "friend."
Before arriving at the zoo, George smokes a pipe and does a stint in prison. After George inadvertently calls the fire department, the firefighters catch him and say, "You fooled the fire department...We will have to shut you up where you can't do any more harm." Then they take him away to prison.
While I am horrified by this book, I am also bored by it, as I am by all of the Curious George books that I have read. I just don't find George or the Man with the Yellow Hat to be very compelling characters.
According to old family tales, I requested that my parents read this one to me so many times that they resorted to accidentally on-purpose "misplacing" it for a while--just long enough to get a chance to read something else to me. :D That said, as an adult, I struggle with rating this classic. As a kid, I loved all the craziness George gets into and how the man in the yellow hat loves him regardless. Now, I find myself cringing at so many things-George being stuffed into a bag and taken from his home, George smoking a pipe, George being put "in prison" for "fooling" the firemen. That said, I'm finding that many of my students (so far, the K-2 ones) love this story. There are usually giggles when George thinks he can fly, gasps when George goes to prison, and big grins when George shares his balloons with the other animals at the zoo. So, what I now do is this.
I introduce the concept of copyright date as a book's birthday and where to find it (verso), and how to tell how old a book is. Then, to put it into perspective, I tell them the story of my parents hiding the book, and we talk about what it was like 70+ years ago. Did people dress the same? Did cars look the same? Telephones? The kids seem to be fascinated with the idea of a dial-phone (need to find one and bring it in). As we read, we spend some time discussing some of the things in the pictures that might not be familiar to the kids now. Other things that we end up discussing? Why the words say they row out to the big ship when the row boat looks bigger than the ship (they love pointing out that it only LOOKS small "cuz it's far away"). Good chance to introduce a new vocabulary word--perspective--and appeal to my visual learners. Then we talk about whether this story is "made up" or "informational" to lead in to reading a non-fiction story. I've been paring this with "Chimpanzees" or "Jane Goodall." Gotta say, I'm having fun all over again with this story. :D
Maria Tatar, in the preface to Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood, asks whether this is an "exemplary" or a "cautionary" tale. Do children admire & scheme to find ways to emulate the adventures of the monkey, or do they accept the moral lesson to be good & obedient, and to consider consequences, because said lesson is couched in a funny book with bright pictures?
Well, I say, don't underestimate children. I believe that many can hold both ideas in their minds simultaneously. Not only do many children surely react to it as *both* exemplary and cautionary, but they may also react to it by thinking "oh, I'll be more careful, I'm smarter than a monkey, I can have adventures without getting caught." They may also react to it by thinking "thank goodness my parents will always love me and not send me to a zoo." (Or, they may think "I wish I could go live in a zoo and not have to do chores or go to school...").
(Btw, these thoughts surely apply to many many other books for children about characters who are curious, or naughty, or who have poor impulse control...)
Totally awesome book. There's like a monkey and stuff. And there's like a dude with a yellow hat. The book's like yellow too. I reminds me of cheese. Sweet, sweet cheese.The monkey is like curious and stuff. His name's like George. He's so awesome.
I'm fairly confident I read all of these multiple times when I was little. I'm actually considering reading the New York Public Library's top 100 list of kids' books and pleasantly surprised that I've already read a lot of them.
Just read this to my kids for Homeschool. Curious George will forever have a special place in my heart. I love how adventurous and curious George is. This book gave me nostalgia. A light-hearted read for any age. 🎈
Reading and the love of books can't encouraged too soon. The Curious George books by H.A. and Margaret Rey were great favourites of our kids and Jeanne has delighted in them ever since Elin brought a jumbo book containing six tales back from a trip to New York last fall. She went looking for our old copies shortly thereafter so ever since Jeanne's been read the old ones--now in tatters--when she visits here.
The stories are still charming, but one of the things that goes over Jeanne's head is the way that the city George lives in changes between books. In the first one it's quite clearly Paris, and the zoo where he goes to live is the Ménagerie in the Jardin des plantes, but the next one is just as clearly New York.
The reason why came clear this morning when the quality French language daily here Le Devoir had an article about an exhibit on George's creators. The Reys were German Jews who met in Brazil where each had gone separately as young people. Rey (born Hans Augusto Reyersbach) and the former Margarete Elisabeth Waldstein founded the first advertising agency in Rio in the 1930s, but decided to go back to Europe, setting up shop in Paris. The curious little monkey appears to have been just one of their projects.
In 1939 the French publisher Gallimard was ready to bring out the first book about the monkey, then called Fifi, but the Reys' studio was searched by the French police on a tip that there might be material for making bombs there. The sketches of George convinced the flics that wasn't the case, but the Reys took the hint the following spring. They decamped for Portugal, taking with them only their Brazilian passports, their sketches and what was left of their advance from Gallimard. At the Spanish border their German accents raised eyebrows with Franco's Fascists, but the innocuous drawings of George and their Brazilian nationality allowed them to continue. Their journeyed back to Brazil and then on to New York, where they started over again.
George once again came to their rescue. Within a month they had a contract with Houghton Mifflin and the first Curious George book was published in 1941. Since then 17 million copies of the various Curious George stories (the Reyes produced seven, and a series has been spun off, written and drawn by others which are not nearly as good.)
The Reyes adventures are highlighted in a exhibit at the Montreal Holocaust Museum from now until June 22. The show was created by Omaha, Nebraska, Institue for Holocaust Education, and is touring North America. Definitely worth the detour if it comes your way.
This is one of those books that reminds me how much I've changed my world outlook over the years. It's not just a question of going from childhood to adulthood. the Curious George books were never my favorites as a kid but I did like them; my guess is I would have given this 3 stars. Now, I'm actually appalled. I’m not really impressed by the book in general but Curious George ending up at the zoo at the end just makes me sad, and I wouldn’t encourage today’s kids to read this book. Debated between 1 and 2 and 3 stars on this one, but there's a zillion better books for kids out there! But I would probably have given it a 4 when I read it as a child.
This is the classic story of George the monkey, heartlessly ripped from his jungle home and kidnapped to a foreign land, where he's forced to figure out his way when the Man in the Yellow Hat leaves him by himself. After wreaking havoc on the city for an entire day, George is arrested and sent to prison (the zoo).
This is George. He lived in the forest. He was very happy. But he had one fault. He was too curious. Now he is not happy. Now he has many faults. What is your fault? What will make you unhappy?
One day George saw a man. He had on a large yellow hat. The man saw George, too. When a man sees you, nothing can stop him from what he will do next. Which means it is very important not to be seen. What do you do when someone tries to see you?
“What a nice little monkey,” he thought, “I would like to take him home with me.” The man put his hat on the ground, and of course George was curious. He came down from the tree to look at the large yellow hat. The hat had been on the man’s head. The hat belonged to the man. George belonged to the man now too. Do you see how simple it is? George picked it up and put it on. That meant “yes.” The hat covered George’s head. He couldn’t see. That meant yes too. The man picked him up quickly and popped him into a bag. George was caught. Caught means yes. Seeing means caught. Seeing means wanting. Wanting means yes. Do you see?
The man with the big yellow hat put George into a little boat, and rowed them both across the water to a big ship. On the big ship, things began to happen. Anything can happen to you. Anything can happen to you. Anything can happen to you. The man took off the bag. But George was still Caught.
George sat on a little stool, and the man said to him, George, I am going to take you to a big city. You will like it there. (Was that a promise or an instruction?) Now run along and play, but don’t get into trouble. Be Good. What is Good, George asked the man in the yellow hat. Good is what I tell you to do, the man said. Good is something you will find out. But it is easy for little monkeys to forget. On the deck he found some sea gulls. He wondered how they could fly. He was very curious. George had not yet learned to be Good. He was still himself. But George cannot be both. He is going to have to choose. Which would you choose: Good or Yourself?
Finally he had to try. It looked easy. I want to go, he told the birds. I want to Go Home or I want to Just Go but I have to Go. I am afraid to learn what Goodness is. And the birds wheeled over his head and said nothing, because birds are first and foremost Themselves, and not very interested in Good, or in monkeys, or in the little things that get caught when men want them.
George tumbled and fell. “WHERE IS GEORGE?” The sailors looked and looked. (Men help other men recover what is theirs. If you belong to a man, other men will help him find you, if you go missing. You will always be found. Does that make you feel safe?) At last they saw him struggling in the water, and tired. George no longer minded being Caught. Which meant he was as caught as caught could be.
“Man overboard!” the sailors cried as they threw him a life belt. George caught it and held on. George had to catch it to hold on. George had to hold on to be caught. George was caught and held on. George held and was held, caught and was caught. George was safe on board. The opposite of Good is drowning. After that, George was more careful to be a good monkey, until at last the long trip was over. Being a good monkey meant: not moving, not leaving, not going away. Being good meant listening, and staying where he was put. Being good meant quiet. Being good felt tired.
George said good-by to the sailors, and he and the man with the yellow hat walked off the ship on to the shore and on into the city to the man’s house. The man’s house was where all of the man’s things lived. George lived there too now. George had a good meal, because George had been Good. George was grateful now. George had learned to be grateful for things like eating. George had learned that being grateful kept him safe, so George was grateful always. George felt very tired. “May I sleep?” he asked the man in the yellow hat. “You may sleep,” said the man in the yellow hat, who was pleased that George had learned to ask for the things he once did by himself. George crawled into bed and fell asleep at once. George dreamed of nothing. This was safe. What do you dream about?
The next morning the man telephoned the Zoo. George watched him. He was fascinated. Then the man went away. (Men could do that. Monkeys couldn’t.) George was curious. (He was not so Good that there was not still room for George too. This is dangerous. Better to be all Good, and no George.) He wanted to telephone, too. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. DING-A-LING-A-LING! GEORGE HAD TELEPHONED THE FIRE STATION!
There was an emergency. George was an emergency. Are you an emergency? Who can you tell about it?
The firemen rushed to the telephone. “Hello! Hello!” they said. But there was no answer. George was curious enough to dial, but not curious enough to speak. That was too much like drowning. Then they looked for the signal on the big map that showed where the telephone call had come from. They didn’t know it was George. They thought it was a real emergency. Maybe they would see the emergency when they saw George. What do you call an emergency that looks just fine?
HURRY! HURRY! HURRY! The firemen jumped on to the fire engines and on to the hook-and-ladders. Ding-dong-ding-dong. Everyone out of the way! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! The firemen rushed into the house. They opened the door. NO FIRE! Only a monkey.
There is an emergency here, George said to the firemen. Can’t you see it?
“Oh, catch him, catch him,” they cried. (Men help other men catch things.) George tried to run away. He could Run, but he couldn’t Go. Do you know the difference between Running and Leaving? George knows now. He almost did, but he got caught in the telephone wire, and – a short fireman caught one arm and a tall fireman caught the other. “You fooled the Fire Department,” they said. “We will have to shut you up where you can’t do any more harm.” But George was already shut up! And there was already harm! Where is the harm? If you have very good eyes, you can see it. Who is hurting? Who is harming? Can you spot the hurt on the monkey?
They took him away and shut him in a prison. George wanted to get out. George always wants to get out. Will George be happy when he gets out, do you think, or will he be happy when he stops wanting to? He climbed up to the window to try the bars. Just then the watchman came in. He got on the wooden bed to catch George. But the watchman was too big and heavy. The bed tipped up, the watchman fell over, and, quick as lightning, George ran out through the open door. He hurried through the building and out on to the roof. And then he was lucky to be a monkey. Out he walked on to the telephone wires. Quickly and quietly over the guard’s head, George walked away. He was outside, but he was still Caught. You can be inside and Caught, or you can be outside and Caught, but if someone has Caught you, you are Caught until they are dead. Was the man in the yellow hat dead?
Down in the street, outside the prison wall, stood a balloon man. A little girl bought a balloon for her brother. George watched. He was curious again. He felt he MUST have a bright red balloon. George felt he MUST have something. George felt he MUST. George wanted it. George felt bigger all over from the wanting of it. George wanted it more than George wanted to be Good, or Uncaught, or Free, or even Home Again. George wanted something that was red, and his. He reached over and tried to help himself, but – instead of one balloon, the whole bunch broke loose. George wants things too much. How bad is your wanting? Does it hurt, when you want? May I tell you a secret? Wanting always hurts. Now you know something you didn’t before!
In an instant the wind whisked them all away and, with them, went George, holding tight with both hands. You can hold onto something without having it. George was learning so many lessons. George was getting smarter. Up, up he sailed, higher and higher. The houses looked like toy houses and the people like dolls. George was frightened. He held on very tight. At first the wind blew in great gusts. Then it quieted. Finally it stopped blowing altogether. George was very tired. George thought that perhaps he might like to die. But he didn’t want to die as much as the man in the yellow hat wanted to catch him.
Down, down he went – bump, on to the top of a traffic light. Everyone was surprised. The traffic got all mixed up. George didn’t know what to do, and then he heard someone call, “GEORGE!” He looked down and saw his friend, (they were very good friends) the man with the big yellow hat! Well. They had to be friends. The man knew his name, didn’t he? Someone who knows your name is your friend. Even if his name hadn’t always been George. (Had it been?) It was George now, and the man knew it. Even if he didn’t know the man in the yellow hat’s name, George was very happy to see him now. If enough things happen to you, you can learn to love something just for being familiar. And the man in the yellow hat was familiar now. And that’s Good. George had learned what being Good was! What have you learned?
The man was happy, too. George slid down the post, and the man with the big yellow hat put him under his arm. Where George belonged. Then he paid the balloon man for all the balloons, because the man in the yellow hat took good care of everything he owned. And then George and the man climbed into the car, and at last away they went, back to the house of the man in the yellow hat. What a nice place for George to live!