BOOK REVIEWS

Curious George and the Rocket Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-06-27 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 77 user ratings
ISBN:0544610954
LANGUAGE:English

" This is my least favorite board book about Curious George because the story is lacking and there is not a single female in the hoards of scientists, reporters, and onlookers. " said.

" It's Curious George and rocketry adventures. You can't go wrong! " said.

" Good transition book between toddler and preschooler. " said.

" This was probably my favorite book when I was a very young child. :) " said.

" An abridged version of Curious George Gets a Medal. This includes some of the fantastic original illustrations as well. A fun story; my only complaint is that it was more wordy than your standard board book story. It's hard to hold a little one's attention on one page for that long. It may be more appropriate for older toddlers. " said.

" This is one of my favourite Curious George books. Mostly because he gets to fly a rocket.However, why would he scientists make a rocket the only a monkey could fit into? Did they run out of money or materials? Was it a mistake where they only realized when the astronauts couldn't fit inside?Regardless, since Curious George is so curious about things all the time, he accepts the request to fly the rocket and earns himself a medal. Good job George! " said.

" It's difficult to deny the appeal of Curious George. I loved him as a kid.However, it's not hard to understand this George adventure is a cute and happy rendering of the use of apes and monkeys in space research--a very timely topic when this book was written, but one that was neither cute nor happy for any of the animals involved. So yes, it's a product of its time, but humane-minded parents may take pause before purchasing this title for their kids. " said.

"Our daughter was two weeks old when we brought her to the library to take out her first board book. She's too young to express a reading preference, but not too young to have a card issued in her own name--hooray! So while I'm no expert on picture books, I'm suddenly in a position to read and review them in my own unique style.

Curious George and the Rocket is a shortened version of the 1957 classic, Curious George Gets a Medal, reduced to board-book size for wee-little baby-children like mine. Lost are classic scenes of George getting himself into mischief with an ink blotter, a mess of soap bubbles, some farm animals, and various museum exhibits. What remains is George's mission training, successful rocket trip into space, safe return by parachute, and subsequently recognized status as the first monkey in space. As a result, George seems uncharacteristically serious in this book and doesn't get into the kind of trouble we might normally expect.

George's space mission is coordinated by a Professor Wiseman, whose academic credentials are never given, under the sponsorship of the Museum of Science, possibly as a publicity stunt although the scientific rationale would have been compelling and significant. There doesn't seem to be an animal behaviorist on staff, unless the Man in the Yellow Hat is being employed as such, which would be a good idea because Professor Wiseman is apparently under the misapprehension that monkeys can read and write.

The book is sparse on details, which is a shame because the scenario presents an excellent opportunity to teach children about the early days of manned (and monkeyed) rocketry. For example, George's bravery and the Man in the Yellow Hat's anxiety could have been highlighted by a brief recap of missions that had gone before...

The first six monkeys loaded into rockets were all named Albert, and all of them suffered horribly in the name of science. Albert I was launched into the sky in June of 1948, went 39 miles up, and suffocated to death before reaching the edge of space. A year later, Albert II successfully made it into space but died on impact when his rocket crashed back to Earth. Albert III died when his rocket accidentally exploded at an altitude of about 35,000 feet. Albert IV, like Albert II, also died on impact. Albert V died in 1951 when his parachute failed to deploy. Finally, Albert VI actually returned alive from space, but died of his injuries two hours after landing.

In 1952, when somebody finally realized that Albert was a terribly unlucky name for monkey astronauts, a pair of cynomolgus monkeys named Patricia and Mike made it safely up and back--except that they didn't fly quite high enough to actually reach space.

This was the state of monkey rocketry in 1957, when Curious George Gets a Medal was originally published. The visionary author-illustrator team of H. A. Rey and Margaret Rey (here uncredited) apparently imagined that the first successful monkey mission would come from the academic and institutional realm, since the military hadn't had much luck to that point and NASA hadn't yet been founded. Thus enter Professor Wiseman and his backers at the museum.

Professor Wiseman can be lauded for including a video camera on George's flight, allowing the crew to view and track him in real time. He also provides George with a protective space suit that might have saved one or two of the Alberts if it had been in earlier usage. However, some other of Professor Wiseman's mission parameters seem a little sketchy--the use of a launch platform made of flammable-looking wood, the close proximity of the ground crew while the rocket is firing, the seeming lack of sensors to monitor George's vital signs during the trip, the idea to attach a parachute to George rather than to the rocket capsule, and the reliance on George to activate his own escape sequence from the rocket after reentry--but despite the potential for disaster, the trip is an overwhelming success and George ends the book with a shiny gold medal.

It wasn't until 1959 that a real-life monkey matched George's fictional space accomplishment. A rhesus monkey named Mr. Able and a spider monkey named Miss Baker were the first living beings to safely make it into space and back again--although Mr. Able died four days later from a bad reaction to an anesthetic during surgery to remove an infected medical electrode. Miss Baker lived out a very long spider monkey lifetime and is buried on the grounds of the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Had George's trip actually occurred in 1957, he really would have earned that medal, as well as the thanks of a grateful planet. Lessons learned from American space monkeys and Soviet space dogs made it possible for human beings to reach orbital and suborbital space in 1961.

Bottom Line: The newly-shortened version of the book is recommended for its depiction of space travel but does very little to showcase Curious George's famous personality, his trademark penchant for getting himself into and out of trouble, and his carefree attitude toward life. We see nothing of George's curiosity in the pages that remain from the larger work, so the protagonist comes off as regrettably generic. I enjoyed reading this to my daughter because I could go off on tangents about space travel, but I felt apologetic on George's behalf, as if I needed to explain that he really is a fun and clever monkey when he's not all serious and scientific.



ME (using Man in the Yellow Hat voice): Look, George, you got a letter from Professor Wise Man!

ME (using Professor Wiseman voice): It's pronounced WEISS-man!

ME (using Man in the Yellow Hat voice): Professor Wise Man wants you to fly to space in his rocket!

ME (using Professor Wiseman voice): WEISS-man, WEISS-man, WEISS-man!!!

ME (using Man in the Yellow Hat voice): Professor Wise Man sure is a nice guy, isn't he?

ME (using Professor Wiseman voice): Aaaaaaaargh!!!

" said.

July 2018 New Book:

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