I had a chance to share Curious George with the 1st grade at the Mayo Elementary school in Holden, MA, my daughter’s class. My children love to share that their dad drew Curious George (I was Art Director for The Continuing Adventures of Curious George for Houghton Mifflin, Co. in the late 1990’s). So I get to share my experiences from time to time and help kids have new experiences thanks to George. It was a large group of kids, bigger than I was expecting and I read one of the books I art directed, Curious George Makes Pancakes. I always like having the kids finish the phrase, “This is George. George was a good little monkey, but always…” and they say CURIOUS! It always works to bring out the smiles and get them involved.
After the story, I told them that illustrating is a wonderful thing to do, sometimes it’s hard work, but I’m blessed to do work that I enjoy.
I then told them that they were going to help me make an illustration. We talked about how we would like to see George and some little boy said that it would be cool to see him on a motorcycle. There were lots of other ideas, even George doing ballet. After about 20 ideas, I asked my daughter’s teacher which idea she liked best. She picked the motorcycle idea. I had never drawn George on a motorcycle; I had drawn him on a bike, but never a motorcycle. So I sketched out the idea real quick and one of the teachers suggested we add a sidecar with the Man in the Yellow hat. Great idea! So I blocked it all in. I then turned a page and traced a much cleaner version, all the while talking about what I was doing and what I was thinking. That’s pretty tough. Anyway I got done and I think they all liked it.
It was real fun visiting with these kids and I look forward to doing again someday. I fondly remember my times at Vipah Interactive, in Wellesley, MA and the time I spent working with those other artists and engineers making Curious George books, CD titles, and other products. They were good times!
Later, I made a color version to give to one of the kids, Alessandra. She sent me a collection of several Curious George drawings, so I had to send something back. I colored it with traditional watercolor and charcoal, framed it and sent it to her. I saw her and her mother at the zoo during a school field trip and they were very excited to have received it. Curious George lives on!
– Chris Becker