COLUMBIA — Screams of joy and shrieks of terror echoed through the YouZeum on Thursday as kids met the troublesome primate Curious George.
Some kids ran to George with open arms and smothered him in kisses, while others shied away. George took it all in stride, waving and posing for pictures with his biggest fans.
- There are seven original stories about Curious George.
- More than 25 million copies of Curious George books have been sold.
- The first book to include the curious monkey was published in Paris, before World War II. In the U.S., it was titled “Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys.”
- H.A. Rey had to redraw the illustrations for his first U.S. book, titled “Curious George,” in an effort to reduce printing costs. He had originally created them using watercolors.
- The books were written by H.A. and Margret Rey, natives of Germany who married in 1935. They later moved to Paris, but had to flee the city hours before Adolf Hitler and the Nazis began taking over Paris. Later, the couple would live in Massachusetts.
- The earliest Curious George stories were only printed under H.A. Rey’s name because a publisher had advised that the children’s book field was already filled with female authors. Margret Rey said she later questioned why she had agreed to that. Her name appeared on later books.
— Source: “Curious About George?,” from HoughtonMifflinBooks.com
About 75 children and parents waited anxiously for the childhood icon outside the YouZeum before the event began at 10 a.m. KMOS-TV worked with the YouZeum and the MU Children's Hospital to bring Curious George to Columbia.
The playful monkey was asked to visit because his TV show is ranked No. 1 on PBS, said Louise Beasley, development officer for the Columbia branch of KMOS-TV.
"We wanted to help (the YouZeum) generate some activities for the summer, so we approached them about bringing a character," Beasley said.
Malaki Hall, 3, was the first in line to meet Curious George. He changed his mind, however, and sat on the side with his mom, Stacey Smith. When Smith asked if Malaki wanted to go take a picture with Curious George, he said, "I don't want to." The pair later left without having officially met the celebrity.
But Curious George didn't scare all the kids away. Noah Mayer, 5, had a blast meeting George. Noah said he like Curious George because he's curious, just like himself.
"I agree very much," said Noah's mom, Angela Mayer. "Yeah, his curiosity sometimes gets him in trouble, just like Curious George."
Charlie Lewis, 4, went up to Curious George and gave him a big hug when it was his turn. His sister, Ginny Lewis, 9, also tagged along. She doesn't watch the show, but she wanted to take a picture with her brother and Curious George.
As time passed, the smell of bananas began to waft through the area as children waited in an ever-growing line to meet Curious George.
"We feel like the turnout was really good for it," Beasley said.