Saturday, April 10, 2010

The True Escape of Curious George

This is George.
He lived in Africa.
He was a good little monkey
and always very curious.

These are the words that begin the adventures of Curious George in Margret and H. A. Rey's 1941 classic children's book.

The charming tale of this mischievous monkey has quite a history, both on and off the page.

George began life as Fifi in Rafi et les 9 singes (later renamed Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys). In this early work Fifi, dubbed the 'clever' monkey, proved so irresistible that his creators decided to dedicate their talents to bring his story to life.

Meanwhile, in their own lives Margret and Hans Augusto were having their own adventures. Deeply in love, these German Jews settled in Paris, France to escape the rise of Nazism. In this idyllic landscape the couple enjoyed life in their Montmartre neighborhood and the French countryside. They worked on "The Adventures of Fifi" until the German army began to invade France.

The threat of Hitler's soldiers finally forced them to escape Paris via bicycle on the morning of June 12, 1940 with the manuscript for what would become the first Curious George book in a leather satchel.

Evidently on this journey, by bicycle and train, from Paris through Spain and Portugal the manuscript charmed border patrol officers and passport officials allowing the Rey's to continue their journey unfettered.

Eventually they made their way to America where they became United States citizens in 1946.

Their story is currently on exhibit at The Jewish Museum until August 1, 2010. The exhibit contains artifacts such as the original artwork for Curious George and personal records of the Rey's. A fascinating must-see for any Curious George fan.

You can also read more about it in Louise Borden's book The Journey That Saved Curious George.


Joy Keaton said...

I love the George-tribute blog header. It's so perfect!

Gary said...

Thank you! More about my favorite monkey coming soon!

Mom said...

What an adorable post. You make everyone love George! Nice to find out about the story behind it;very interesting! I love you! Your Mommy xxxooo

lettuce said...

what a wonderful story.
He never really made it over here to blighty - or not during my childhood at any rate.

btw, the new Dr. Who has started over here - the 11th regeneration. pretty good so far!

Brian Miller said...

very nice...we have read quite the number of curious books to our boys...

Gary said...

Mom! You did it! I hope the computer didn't give you too much trouble this time. Believe it or not, I have two good friends who are not so into George. I hear "why can't he just do what he is told?". George always reminds me of (my twin brother) Larry when we were little. So curious and always getting into trouble.

Letty - Across the pond George was first known as ZoZo as not to insult the king at the time. I've read he has had quite a few names (Bingo, Coco, Piete, Peter Pedal and Nicke).

Joy & I have been watching the new season of Doctor Who on the computer. She has been very good about locating it. Fantastic! I like the new Doctor but do miss David Tennant. So far we've seen two episodes and next up: Daleks!! I wish we were able to watch the confidentials part however. How are those?

Brian - excellent! For young kids the board books are wonderful. Check out some of the other books by the Reys as well if you get the chance.

Arielle Lee Bair said...

Wow! I never knew that! Thanks for the great post. That is a truly incredible story and I love learning things like that about my favorite books.

PS. Like the header!

Barbara said...

This is absolutely fascinating. It makes me wonder what I would take if I were forced to leave home on my bicycle. I'm so glad they brought Curious George along with them and made it safely out of France and to the US eventually. They were among the lucky ones. And now we are the lucky beneficiaries!

Gary said...

Arielle - I love the backstories as well. And what a story!

Barbara - I didn't realize that Sunday was Holocaust Rememberance Day until someone in class brought it up on Monday night. Hence, both our posts being related. If I had to escape in a hurry I think I would take along my journals for sure.

lettuce said...

we haven't watched the Confidentials.

as for the new Daleks, well, hmmmmmmm


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