Illustrated by H.A. Rey
(Houghton Mifflin, 2008)
Give me a greeting card and I’m apt to keep it for a month, maybe a year. Perhaps it will sit amidst a pile of coupons, clippings and playbills in a dresser drawer until my next big move. A picture book, however, never gets turfed and never winds up in a thrift store...not in my house at least.
I’ve bought many a copy of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! as graduation, retirement and moving gifts over the years. No doubt, I am not alone in this gift giving idea and publishers have taken note. In recent years, other inspirational picture books have been published such as DreamBig featuring Ian Falconer’s beloved pig Olivia and the penguin-themed Learning to Fly by Sebastian Meschenmoser. It should come as no surprise that a similar book featuring Curious George should join the market.
These books follow a similar formula. The main message: you’ll fly high, you’re destined for greatness, amazing things await! Still, there will be unexpected curves and dips. Of course, you’ll overcome the obstacles for nothing can stop you. Yes, it’s all one glorified Hallmark card.
And yet it’s more than that. Not only are Aunt Betty and Uncle Nathan rooting for you but, by golly, Curious George believes in you, too.
Yes, you and that cheeky monkey have a cheering section rushing toward you, with the man in the yellow hat near the front and a couple more yellow hat-bearing men in the crowd. H.A. Rey’s original watercolor and charcoal pencil illustrations accompany new motivational text. “HIP, HIP, HOORAY! You’ve done great things. The whole world is proud of YOU today.” Words that apply to the monkey are also perfect for you: “Whatever you do, you will find your own style. Even if it surprises a few!” Go, monkey! Go, you!
Who can suppress a smile, harkening back to a favorite literary character from early childhood as the next big step in life nears? As we get older, carrying around a heavily chewed and drooled upon teddy bear may trigger unwanted stares, but there is both comfort and inspiration packed in a picture book that can be prominently displayed on a home or office shelf and read over and over. May you never be too old to enjoy the antics of Curious George.