Curious George Goes to the Hospital

Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Curious George Goes to the Hospital Book Poster Image
Adorable monkey livens up a hospital stay.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Preschoolers and early graders will learn what can happen if they eat something that is not food. They also will learn who works in a hospital, what the inside of a hospital looks like, and how doctors and nurses help people.

Positive Messages

Going to the hospital can seem scary, but doctors and nurses help people feel better. Also: Don't eat nonfood items.

Positive Role Models & Representations

George is brave and keeps his sense of fun, even in the hospital.

Violence & Scariness

George careens through the hospital on a "go-cart" and crashes into food servers and hospital workers, but the only harm done is a huge mess. There are sick and injured children in the hospital, but the cause and extent of their ailments are not described in the book.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Curious George Goes to the Hospital is the last of the original Curious George books by H.A. Rey and Margret Rey. The adorable little monkey must be admitted to the hospital after he eats a puzzle piece. The book describes the way the hospital staff discover what happened to George and what it's like for George to be in the hospital, but there's no detail about the procedure to remove the puzzle piece. While he's in the hospital, George's antics entertain and amuse other children, especially a frightened girl named Betsy. For children in the book and for readers, George's funny adventures take the edge off a trip to the hospital. The book also lets kids know it's not a good idea to eat things that are not food. Note that this book was written in 1966, so gender roles are a bit outdated: In illustrations, all the doctors are white men, and all the nurses are white women.

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What's the story?

George's curiosity often gets him into trouble, and in CURIOUS GEORGE GOES TO THE HOSPITAL, he eats a puzzle piece and winds up at the hospital. The doctor and nurses have George drink barium, and they take an x-ray to find out what's giving the little monkey a tummy ache. When they discover there's a foreign object inside George, they admit him and put him in a children's ward full of kids with various injuries and ailments. The book describes George's experience of having the puzzle piece removed -- taking a pill to make him sleepy and being wheeled into an operating room where doctors and nurses wear masks -- but it does not include detail about the medical procedure. George's throat is sore afterward, but he quickly recovers and gets to visit the children's playroom. There, he spins around on top of a phonograph (this was the '60s) and then gets ahold of an injured boy's "go-cart" (a wheelchair with an attachment to accommodate a broken leg). George whizzes through the hospital on top of the go-cart and finally crashes into a crowd of visitors, hospital staff, and food servers. He makes a huge mess but lands in the arms of the visiting mayor, and all is forgiven when a little girl named Betsy -- who had been very nervous at the hospital -- laughs and feels better.

Is it any good?

Curious George Goes to the Hospital is adorable and funny in all the wonderful ways we expect of H.A. and Margret Rey's stories about the adventurous little monkey. It's also an old-fashioned book in some ways -- for better and for worse. On the one hand, it's worth noting that the illustrations in this 1966 classic portrays doctors as only white men and nurses as only white women. However, this picture book also includes more language and  detail than modern authors might use in a preschool book, which can encourage children to appreciate books and develop a longer attention span.

In any event, it's a wonderfully entertaining story, and the pictures are lively and cute. Kindle users should note that to enlarge the quite small text for easy reading, they'll need to double-click more than once in different areas to view a couple of sentences at a time on pages that include longer passages.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what doctors and nurses do. How do they help people? Would you like to be a doctor or a nurse when you grow up?

  • What is your favorite Curious George story?

  • Try drawing a picture of George.

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