Curious George is a children's book written and illustrated by Margret Rey and H. A. Rey, and published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941. It is the first book in the Curious George series and tells the story of an orphaned monkey named George and his adventures with the Man with the Yellow Hat.
The story opens with George, a little orphaned brown monkey, in the jungle of Africa. An unnamed man in a large yellow straw hat observes him through his binoculars and decides to bring the monkey home with him. He puts his hat on the ground and hides behind a tree. George, ever curious, comes down from the tree "to look at the large yellow hat." He puts the hat on but it is so large that he could not see and this gives the man in the yellow hat the chance to capture him and put him in a bag. The Man takes George in a rowboat to his cruise ship where he gets him out of the bag and then tells George that he is taking him to a zoo in a big city and that he will like it there. He then gives George the run of the ship and tells him not to get into trouble. On deck, George sees some seagulls, tries to fly with them, and falls overboard. Luckily, the crew notices that George is missing, and spot him in the Atlantic Ocean. They throw him a lifesaver and pull him aboard.
When they arrive in America, George is taken to the Man's house, has a meal, smokes a pipe, then goes to bed. The next day, after seeing the Man, the Man makes a telephone call to the zoo before leaving. George wants to telephone too. So he plays with the telephone. But then he inadvertently calls the fire station. When the firefighters hear the call, they rush to the telephone and hear no answer. Then they look at the map that shows them where the telephone call had come from. They do not notice that it is George and think it is a real fire. Then they get on their fire trucks quickly. But when they rush to the house, all they find is no fire but a naughty monkey (and it is George). Then a skinny firefighter and a fat fireman both grab the monkey who got caught in the telephone wire. George is arrested for false alarm and sentenced to a definite period of time in jail.
George attempts to climb out through the window, but there are bars. At that moment, a watchman comes in and climbs on a wooden bed to get George out of jail. The watchman however is so heavy that the bed tips over and pins him against the wall. This stalls him and buys George the time to run out the open door and escape. He then climbs over the guard in front of the jail on the telephone wires. Out in the street, he spots a balloon vendor and tries to grab a balloon, but ends up grabbing the entire bunch and flying off into the air. He is carried by the breeze until it stops, leaving George on top of a traffic signal, making the traffic mixed up. The Man finds him there, buys all the balloons from the street vendor, and finally takes George to his new home at the zoo, where each animal gets its own balloon.
16 mm stop-motion animated shorts were produced of two Curious George stories, Curious George and Curious George Goes to the Hospital in 1982, created with puppet-figures by noted animator John Clark Matthews (who later used a similar technique for his films of Frog and Toad).