George is a little monkey, and all monkeys are curious. but no monkey is as curious as George.
from Curious George Flies a Kite
by H. A. Ray
I don’t remember learning how to read. It seems like I’ve always done it. I know my early teachers are bound to take exception to that. But there it is. It must have been magic. Magic and curiosity.
Curious George is 75 years old this year. He has become the quintessence of innocence: reckless in his decision-making but learning from the inevitable consequences of his mis-behavior. George is not a watcher, he’s a doer.
I am not seventy-five, yet. I am a watcher, then a sometimes doer. It’s my way to explore the world. Reading fit nicely with my predisposition to watching. I could experience George’s anxiety when he got caught in a spate of mischief and his relief when all, inevitably, turned out well.
In my tame childhood, an adventure never came out badly only to become its own reward in the end. It was enough for me to experience all that through George and his antics.
My tame childhood taught me other useful things, though. I spent many quiet afternoons reading about Curious George to my little brother. I learned the closeness that comes with shared experiences. I learned that I could amuse someone else, and that it felt good to do that. I learned to put aside my own wants (Curious George Takes a Job) for someone else’s (Curious George Rides a Bike) and that felt pretty good, too.
I’m lucky H.A. Ray and his wife Margaret escaped Europe all those years ago with their little monkey manuscript in their suitcase. I’m lucky my mom loved the library, giving me access to as many books as I wanted. I’m lucky my brother liked to listen as much as I liked to read.
Maybe luck and magic are two sides of the same coin. The other day, I asked one of my grandsons if he remembers learning how to read.
“No,” he said, surprising himself. “It seems like I’ve always been able to do it.”
That’s why I believe in magic. Beautiful things happen when I do.