Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys is the perfectly delightful tale of Curious George, his eight siblings, and their mother, who has the giggle-inducing name of Mother Pamplemoose. All of the little monkey siblings (with the exception of the baby and the twins, Punch and Judy) have distinguishing personality characteristics. Of course, it’s Curious George who is clever. But the story isn’t all about him. It’s more about the fun they have once they are rescued by Cecily Giraffe, a lonely giraffe whose family has all been taken away to the zoo. Cecily G. not only rescues them from their plight when their tree-top home is destroyed due to the cutting down of the forest; she also provides them with a home now that her family is all gone. The best part of the book, though, is all the fun they have with Cecily G., who happens to be a very accommodating giraffe. For example, they use Cecily as a see-saw, a sailboat, and a slope for skiing. That’s friendship. My girls think all of this is hilarious, and so do I. The book ends with a fun song, and although my girls don’t usually like for me to sing while I’m reading, they always request this one. Why? It’s because the song is written using Cecily G. as the treble clef and the monkeys as the notes. Lulu is learning to read music, and Louise has a really basic idea of notes, etc., so this is interesting and amusing to them. And to me.
I’m just really smitten with this book. Our library copy looks like the green one above, and the only hint that it’s a Curious George book is the little note on the front which reads, “the first book about Curious George.” While I do think I probably noticed that when I checked it out (and perhaps that knowledge actually piqued my interest since I thought Curious George was the first Curious George book), I don’t think I expected it to be like the rest of the Curious George books since the cover is different. However, it appears that the only version of Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys that’s available now is one with the trademark bright yellow cover (as well as the tell-tale red band across the top with a modernized picture of C.G.). I understand the marketing behind this, but sometimes I wish they’d (whoever they are)would just leave things be. Lulu even noticed that there is a subtle difference between the coloring of the illustrations in Cecily G. and Curious George.
The other observation I wanted to make about this is that if my memory serves me correctly, Cecily G. was copyrighted in 1942 and Curious George in 1941. Although this doesn’t mesh with the Wikipedia article about Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, it just makes me wonder that if it’s so, maybe Curious George actually did hit the shelves first. Anyone out there a real H. A. Rey fan and know the answer to this one?
Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys earns a definitive Highly Recommended from the House of Hope, as well as a spot on my Best Picture Books list. Check it out!