Curious George returns — to help his Muslim friend

He’s back! Curious George, everyone’s favorite mischievous monkey, has turned up for a new adventure with his caretaker, the Man with the Yellow Hat.

It’s Ramadan, Curious George follows George as he learns about the Islamic holy month from his young friend, Kareem. When Kareem decides to try fasting for the first time, George resolves to help by distracting Kareem whenever he feels hungry.

Originally created by H.A. and Margret Rey in 1939, the Curious George books are childhood classics, and publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt asked Pakistani-American author Hena Khan to write the latest entry in the series. “I thought it was an amazing opportunity for inclusion and to really allow Muslim children to identify with this character they love so much,” Khan told the New York Daily News.

Cartoon monkey and people preparing iftar treats (© Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Curious George visits the home of his friend Kareem to prepare iftar treats. (© Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt isn’t the only publisher now serving diverse U.S. readers. Simon & Schuster recently announced the launch of Salaam Reads, an imprint focused on Muslim characters and stories.

Salaam’s first titles will appear in 2017, “to provide fun and compelling books for Muslim children” while also “entertaining and enriching … a larger non-Muslim audience,” Executive Editor Zareen Jaffery said.

Khan hopes her Curious George story demonstrates how Islam’s universal values — community, family and charity — are magnified during Ramadan.

A Muslim herself, Khan sought to portray U.S. Muslims “of all backgrounds and races, women who … cover their hair and women who don’t, and Muslims who engage with their non-Muslim friends and open up their mosques to interfaith and charitable activities,” she told the Daily News.

“I think it’s important as a Muslim writer now to share our cultural traditions and show that the things we care about as humans … are the same across the board,” she said.

Learn more about Ramadan in America, and discover how American Muslims live their faith and serve their communities.