'Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators' Movie Is Inspiring
Who isn’t familiar with Curious George? Well, OK… for those of you who aren’t, here’s the simian-style skinny: Curious George is an illustrated children's book published in 1941. Curious George the character is a sweet monkey who can't help but run into trouble. George's friend, The Man in the Yellow Hat, tries very hard to care for George and is always saving the day. The book’s themes are about learning, forgiveness and playful curiosity.
What do you know about Margret Rey and H. A. Rey though? While you may know the names as the writer and illustrator of the Curious George books, that’s probably it. Until now! Filmmaker Ema Ryan Yamazaki has made an impressive mixed-media documentary that tells the incredible story of Hans and Margret Rey, the husband and wife duo who together authored the Curious George franchise.
Thanks to Monkey Business, you and your family will learn everything going back to the time Curious George was nothing more than a quick pencil-sketch. In its time, the beloved series has sold over 75 million books in more than 25 languages.
But the Curious George fables almost didn’t see the light of day. You see, Margret and Hans were German Jews who had to flee Nazi Germany. The documentary tells the whole harrowing – and sometimes even humorous – story in a partially illustrated manner, complete with narration from old interviews. It’s peppered with commentary from their friends (and frenemies… the doc reveals that Margaret wasn’t as sugary sweet as her storybook prose might lead one to believe) who explain how they got their precious manuscript from Germany, to France, and finally to the United States where it was published by Houghton Mifflin.
The director of Monkey Business was granted access to over 300 boxes of archival material including war journals, letters, and old sketches, from a massive collection of the couple’s personal documents archived at the de Grummond collection at the University of Southern Mississippi. The meticulous research shows, and it’s impressive. While I can’t say very young children will enjoy this film (it was a bit slow at times), it’s a must see for the Curious George fan or for kids who aspire to writers or illustrators. What’s more, it’s perhaps a more palatable way to introduce stories from what is arguably the worst time in history.
While the story behind the curious little monkey who has captivated readers for nearly a century is interesting, the real takeaway from Monkey Business is illustrating what can be accomplished with perseverance, talent, and true love. The couple were married and worked together their entire adult lives and spun a legacy that lasts to this day – the documentary captures that very well.
Will you watch Monkey Business? What are your kids’ favorite Curious George stories? (I love Curious George and the Birthday Surprise!) Share with us!Tags : movies film documentary