Some classic children’s books stand the test of time completely. Others feel at least a little disconnected. A “Runaway Bunny” isn’t quite so heartwarming in an age of hypervigilance. (And these days, wouldn’t the mother bunny get a GPS tracker instead?) “A Pocket for Corduroy” is sweet, but would an artist in a laundromat be wearing a beret? But the most jarring of all is “Curious George,” by Cambridge authors Margret and H.A. Rey. That monkey — amusing, mischievous, and rightly beloved — is also summarily stolen from the African jungle, lured by a yellow hat, tossed into a sack, and taken against his will to an American zoo.
You can scoff at parents who fret, but kids notice these things too. The other day, my 6-year- old, steeped in modern-day PBS nature shows, asked, out of the blue,”Why isn’t Curious George in the jungle with his mom and dad?” I stumbled around the answer, not wanting to tell the truth: “Because. . . animal trafficking.” — JOANNA WEISS