Fact Check

Does Curious George 'Get High' on Ether in an Old Children's Book?

"Suddenly his head began to turn, then he felt as if he were flying."

Published Jul 16, 2021

392727 03: A "Curious George" book sits on a table August 1, 2001 in New York City. Ron Howard, Universal and Brian Grazer''s production company, Imagine Entertainment, are planning to make the classic children''s book character "Curious George" into a movie. The series of books by authors H.A. and Margaret Rey have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 12 languages. The film may be in theatres by 2003. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Image Via Spencer Platt/Getty Images
In one old book, Curious George "gets high" on ether.

In July 2021, a popular post on the internet forum Reddit highlighted what appeared to be a bizarre moment from the "Curious George" children's books in which the titular monkey "gets high" on ether.

The publisher of the post, on the /mildlyinteresting subreddit, wrote "Curious George getting high in a children's book I own" and attached what appeared to be a photograph of a page in which George comes across a large bottle of the archaic anaesthetic, breathes from it, and suffers various symptoms ("His head began to turn," "He felt as if he were flying," "Rings and stars danced before his eyes") before passing out:

The page was completely authentic, and originated in a real Curious George book, first published in 1947. As such, we're issuing a rating of "True."

The episode in question takes place in "Curious George Gets a Job," the second title in the series written by Margret and Hans Augusto (H.A.) Rey — the husband-and-wife couple who created the character.

In the book, George escapes from the zoo, visits a restaurant, and ends up cleaning some dishes as recompense for destroying a pot of spaghetti. Given that he has four dexterous limbs, he excels at the task, and gets a job cleaning windows.

During his work, he sneaks into an apartment and paints its walls to look like a jungle, before being chased by the painters who had taken a break and left the room unattended. George jumps from the fire escape, breaks a leg, and ends up in hospital, where he encounters the big bottle of ether.

A 1975 printing of the book, published by Houghton Mifflin, can be browsed in full here. The "ether episode" takes place on page 37 of that edition, and can be viewed in full below:

Eventually a nurse, doctor and George's best friend "the man in the yellow hat," pick up an unconscious George and revive him by placing him in the bath and turning on the shower. "How surprised he was when he woke up!" the book adds.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.

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