Curious George Learns the Alphabet

Curious George Learns The Alphabet
First edition
Author H. A. Rey
Margret Rey
Country United States
Language English
Series Curious George
Genre Children's literature
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publication date
Media type Print
Preceded by Curious George Flies a Kite 
Followed by Curious George Goes to the Hospital 

Curious George Learns the Alphabet is a children's book written and illustrated by Margret Rey and H. A. Rey and published by Houghton Mifflin in 1963. It is the sixth book in the original Curious George series.


Readers learn the alphabet along with George as the man in the yellow hat teaches the curious monkey the alphabet.

George is so curious as he looks at the marks in the Man's books, he starts tearing some pages. At first, George does not know the alphabet. But the Man comes home and finds George tearing up a book. The Man comes just in time and scolds George for tearing his books to find out what's in them. Really, books are for reading because they are full of stories, which are made of words, which are made of letters. The Man then decides it is time to teach George about the twenty-six letters of the alphabet so that George is able to know the alphabet and to make and read words (and even read and write stories). He then sets up a pad and stars writing each of the letters from the alphabet.

As the man and George learn the alphabet, they write the capital and the lowercase letter (from each letter in the alphabet), then he and George draw the picture (matching to the correct letter of the alphabet; to both the capital and lowercase letter):

  • Big A for ALLIGATOR; small a for apple (The big "A" is for an ALLIGATOR with his mouth open. The small "a" looks like a piece of an apple (an apple slice). George knew about alligators and apples. While one could eat apples, alligators could eat the reader if they did not watch out.)
  • Big B for BIRD; small b for bumblebee (In the small "b" which is for "bumblebee", George kept away from bumblebees. Because one like George may get stung if they did not watch out and that would be bad.)
  • Big C and small c for CRAB/crab (a Big CRAB is in the form of a Big "C"; a small crab is in the form of a small "c")

In the first review, the Man with the Yellow Hat teaches George about how they learned the first 3 letters in the alphabet (A, B, and C). The Man with the Yellow Hat try out some spelling words for reviews on the letters. The first review is about the first three letters (A, B, and C). The Man uses these first 3 letters to make the word "cab". Then he draws a picture of a cab. That is one word made from the first 3 letters. After learning one real word, the Man and George go on with the alphabet to look at more letters (the letters D through G).

  • Big D for DINOSAUR; small d for a dromedary
  • Big E for ELEPHANT; small e for ear of a man or monkey (both ears look very much alike).
  • Big F for a FIREMAN Fighting a Fire (One must never fool the fire department or they get arrested by the police and go to jail; and jail is no fun); small f for a flower
  • Big G for GOOSE and GEORGE; small g for goldfish

For a second review, the Man with the Yellow Hat tells George to read some new words made from the first 7 letters (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G) he'd just learned. These words (Dad, Ed, bag, cage, bed, feed, and bad) are seven real words. They had learned the first 7 letters (which is up to the letter "G"). George does this while the Man brings him some lunch. George reads the seven words (Dad, Ed, bag, cage, bed, feed, and bad) and at first is good. However, when the Man comes back with George's lunch, he catches George dancing about the room wearing the alphabet chart around his neck like a cape and in annoyance scolds George. The Man is impressed with the first six words made from the first seven letters (Dad, Ed, bag, cage, bed, and feed) which George made. George did make real words (from the first 7 letters). So those six "words" are indeed real words. But the Man scolds George for his bad and sneaky trick. He says that even though George knows these words (the six words; Dad, Ed, bag, cage, bed, and feed), the only word he also knows how to read is the word "bad" (which is indeed made from three of the first 7 letters: A, B, and D). Since George made the chart of words like a cape (tearing it apart), he was bad. The Man then decides they've had enough for one morning. So at noon, George eats his lunch. After lunch, George settles down for a nap before he and the Man go on with new letters from the alphabet (the letters H through Z).

  • Big H for HOUSE; small h for horse
  • Big I for ICICLE; small i for iguana
  • Big J for JAGUAR; small j for a jack-in-the-box
  • Big K for a big KANGAROO named KATY; small k for a small kangaroo, Katy's baby kangaroo (or "kid kangaroo").
  • Big L for LION who has a LEG OF LAMB for LUNCH; small l for a lean lady strolling along a lake with a lollipop
  • Big M for MAILMAN named MR.MILLER; small m for mouse who munches candy mints

The Man with the Yellow Hat tells George that "M" is the 13th letter in the alphabet. Since the whole alphabet has 26 letters, he says, the letter "M" (the 13th letter), it is just half of it. Now since they are halfway through the alphabet, he gives George a pad of paper and a pencil with which to write down some words made from the first half (first 13 letters) of the alphabet. This is for the third review, as they have learned 13 letters (which was up to "M"). George writes words out of the letters and shows it to his friend. The Man with the Yellow Hat is quite impressed with the real words (ball, milk, cake, ham, jam, egg, lime, feed, and kid). Indeed, that is nine real words (made from the first 13 letters). However, the Man gets confused at the made-up words (dalg, glidj, and blimlimlim). He asks George what on Earth they mean. When he does not know what they mean, he tells George that there are no such words and that any specific letters of the alphabet do not make just any kind of words. After finishing half of the alphabet, they continue to look at new letters (from letters N through Z).

  • Big N for NAPKIN; small n for a nose
  • Big O and small o for OSTRICH/ostrich (a Big Ostrich is in the form of a Big "O"; a small ostrich is in the form of a small "o")
  • Big P and small p for PENGUIN/penguin (a Big Penguin is in the form of a Big "P"; a small penguin is in the form of a small "p")
  • Big Q for a QUAIL; small q for a quarterback.

The Man with the Yellow Hat and George go outside to play football so George can play a little before they go on with his letters. George plays really well and the Man with the Yellow Hat tells him that it was a good game, but the game ends and they have to go back to the alphabet.

  • Big R for RABBIT; small r for rooster
  • Big S and small s for SNAIL/snail (a Big Snail is in the form of a Big "S"; a small snail is in the form of a small "s")
  • Big T for a TABLE and TEA (however, George did not care for tea but he liked toast); small t for a tomahawk

The duo (The Man and George) has learned 20 letters from the alphabet so far (which is up to "T"). This is for a fourth review (learning from the letters N through T). The Man with the Yellow Hat tells George that it is now time for a snack and gives him a note to run over to the bakery and buy one dozen (12) doughnuts, adding, "And no tricks, please!" But, George, curious of course, thinks he would like a chance to write something on the note as well. Curious of course, he wants more than one dozen doughnuts (perhaps at least ten dozen). He crosses out the word "one" and writes the word "ten" (after learning about the letter "T"; which is the 20th letter) above it, making the note read "ten dozen donuts". His desire of wanting more than one dozen, eventually becomes "ten dozen doughnuts". The word "ten" has a "T" (which is the 20th letter) and an "N" (which is the 14th letter). However, "E" in "ten" is the 5th letter (viewed from the first three reviews). After George revises the letter from "ONE DOZEN DOUGHNUTS" to "TEN DOZEN DOUGHNUTS", he goes over to the bakery. Then he hands the baker the note requesting ten dozen doughnuts. The baker (as he finds the letter revised) says ten dozen doughnuts may be quite a lot (after reading the note). But he tells George that this is what the note says. Because that's what the note states, it needs an extra-large bag. George brings the bag of ten dozen (120) doughnuts home. The Man meanwhile upon seeing George again, has a huge surprise. George (due to being curious again) has made three mistakes; using the alphabet chart like a cape (from the 2nd review), making gibberish words which confused the Man (from the 3rd review), and now he has bought ten dozen doughnuts instead of one (for the 4th) and fooling around with them. George opens the extra-large bag of doughnuts, goofs off with it, and dumps out the ten dozen doughnuts onto the floor. Then the Man takes note of seeing all different kinds of doughnuts being dumped to the floor (and says, "Why, George!"), catches sight of the note George had "revised", and sternly scolds him for changing the note and making a mess with the doughnuts. When he reads the letter that George just "revised", he tells himself that this is what he himself deserves for teaching the alphabet to a little monkey. He adds irritatedly, "I guess that comes from teaching the alphabet to a little monkey!". Then turning to George, he says, "And I told you, 'no tricks'!". As a result of George's trick, snack time is now postponed. The Man tells George he cannot have any doughnuts now, and to put them back in the bag so that they can finish the alphabet first.

  • Big U and small u for UMBRELLA/umbrella (a Big Umbrella is in the form of a Big "U"; a small umbrella is in the form of a small "u")
  • Big V and small v for VALENTINE/valentine (a Big Valentine is in the form of a Big "V"; a small valentine is in the form of a small "v")
  • Big W and small w for WHISKERS/whiskers (a Walrus's Whiskers are in the form of a Big "W"; whiskers of some men and cats are in the form of a small "w")
  • Big X and small x look alike, except of course for their different sizes, but the Man with the Yellow Hat tells George that there are only a few words that begin with the letter X and they don't look like an "X"; except for X-MAS.
  • Big Y and small y for YAK/yak (a Big Yak is in the form of a Big "Y"; a small yak, who is still young, is in the form of a small "y")
  • Big Z and small z for ZEBRA/zebra (a Big Zebra is in the form of a Big "Z"; a small zebra is in the form of a small "z")

Then the Man with the Yellow Hat tells George that "Z" is the last letter of the alphabet and now that he knows all twenty six letters of the alphabet, he lets him have the doughnuts. At the last page, the story ends when George (before eating a few of the doughnuts; shown to be three or four doughnuts through the backing pages) takes 76 of the 120 doughnuts. Then he uses them to spell out "THE END".

Error: In the J section, it says that George knew jaguars, having lived in the jungle once. This is incorrect, since the Man with the Yellow Hat caught George in Africa. But jaguars are native to South America. Leopards (on the other hand) are native to tropical Africa and Asia.

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