Pros: The message, Funny, Hilarious Pictures, Bonding opportunities for father and son
Cons: A bit short, Some might call this "old"
As a young boy, I enjoyed it immensely when my parents would read me one of the Curious George stories. These are relatively simple, and of course involve the monkey who's always in some sort of trouble, along with his friend called "the man in the yellow hat." These books have been around forever, and recently I've started to read these to my son, who actually pays attention to me for once when I do. This is because we've both come to the same conclusion, and that is the man with the yellow hat is styling, with his faux sombrero and plaid shirt. I am convinced that "the man with the yellow hat" is none other than Wilford Brimley, who's famous for being the dour grandfather in the movie Cocoon,and of recent popularity due to his "diabeetus commercials for Liberty Medical."
Wilford Brimley has a Mortal Kombat "Shang Tsung"ability to morph into a orange cat with a moustache, or a walrus.(If you go to google images, you'll see irrefutable proof of this.) The book "Curious George Goes Camping" starts out like all of the others. George goes on an outdoor excursion, accompanied by the man with the yellow hat aka Wilford. He has trouble assisting Wilford with "pitching a tent," so he's told to "eat his damn oatmeal, get some supplies from Liberty after consulting medicare, and a bucket of water for the fire." Curious George has fun with the water pump, and puts out fires that people are enjoying. They get mad at him, and he runs off into the woods.
I love the fact that he struggles with the tent. Its a subtle reminder to children, that one day they will be watching their fathers in a similar predicament. I'm waiting for my son to "share and tell" at kindergarten one day. The teacher will ask him "What did you hear while you were camping?" "I heard my father say, I can't stand this f*cking tent." George gets lost in the woods, and runs into various wildlife. This is good for kids and their adult readers, because they both can share a passion for animals. George gets lost, and this its never to early to explain what to do, if a child has this happen to them. The answer is simple, call Wilford and ask for testing supplies.
George gets sprayed by a skunk. I've had a similar experience, but thankfully I backed away in "a nick of time." Children can learn that some wildlife should be avoided, and that sitting in a tree with a breeze behind you, won't get rid of that stench. George sees a fire from the tree, and realizes that he has to fill up the bucket with water, and put it out. He does this heroic deed, and is thanked by a forest ranger and the "man with the yellow hat." This is a good lesson for youngsters, that fire safety is important, along with the fact that if you see something wrong, you should go to uniformed personnel.(ie. police, firefighters, rangers, security officers, etc)
The illustrations are hilarious. I just love the expressions on George's face, because my son makes similar ones. We've both laughed while reading this book, which is a bit short, but has an overall positive message. Its nothing complex, but rather a story that children will find entertaining, and hopefully some of the positive messages of this one will stay with them when they are outdoors. This isn't a modern story, so don't expect Wilford/Man in the yellow hat to have his Liberty testing machine, or laptop to skype people with his frowning, grimacing jowls. Yet even as old as this is, the message is a positive one, and I hope my son is as passionate about the outdoors as I am.