Monday, December 27, 2010

Monkeying with the Classics: Furious George Goes Bananas: A Primate Parody by Michael Rex

George was a great big ape who lived in a beautiful jungle.

One day a man in a funny hat saw George and said, "Ooh! What a big monkey. I want him."

Michael Rex, fairly famous for his parodies, Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody and Runaway Mummy: A Petrifying Parody spoofing Margaret Wise Brown's classics, has done it again with a new takeoff which "apes" a famous tailless monkey's adventures--beginning with his abduction from the forest by the man with the yellow hat.

This George and his man with the funny hat are something else altogether. Wherever the original George was childlike in his innocence and curiosity and his man was well intentioned, if a bit naive about the care and feeding of wild animals, (a pipe before bedtime?) the interests of Michael Rex's man in the funny hat are purely pecuniary.
"Hello," said the man in the funny hat to the zookeeper.

"Would you like to buy my monkey?"

"Well," said the zookeeper, "he's actually an ape.

Monkeys have tails. But, yes, I will buy him."

He put George in a cage.... George was squeezed. He went bananas.

The zoo thing was not working out, and this George takes matters into his own hands, grabbing a bunch of helium balloons from a vendor, tying the zookeeper to them and sending him floating through the sky. The man in the funny hat tries again, this time trying to make a few bucks in the construction industry.
"My monkey would like a job. Would you like him to work for you?" asked the man in the funny hat.

"Sure," said the foreman. "But he ain't a monkey. He's an ape. A monkey got a tail."

In short order this George goes through a series of supposedly lucrative jobs which his greedy guardian digs up for him--first as the headliner in a Broadway show and then as astronaut. By this time Just George has definitely become Furious George.
He did not want to go into outer space. He wanted to go home to the jungle.

That rotten man in the funny hat was the one who should go into space!

And where there's a clever monkey, er, ape in the story, there's definitely a way that that can be arranged.

If Michael Rex's newest, Furious George Goes Bananas: A Primate Parody (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2010) lacks the warm insouciance of his earlier parodies, older picture books fans will definitely chuckle as this George works his way through instantly recognizable take-offs on the adventures of the beloved monkey of the Curious George series. This one is a good alternative for kids who think they've outgrown the cute little George but will giggle as this Furious George gives his captor his comeuppance and finds his own way back to his beloved jungle--to stay.

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