Friday, October 23, 2009

Curious George vs Adolph Hitler

What do Henry Kissinger, Peter Max and Curious George have in common? They were all German Jews who escaped the Nazi's clutches by fleeing to the United States. Well, on second thought, I don't think Curious George was really affiliated with any religion, but his creator, H. A. Rey, was born into a Jewish family in Hamburg in 1906. And in The Journey That Saved Curious George : The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey you'll learn how the Reys and their unpublished manuscript got the heck out of Europe just as the Germans were rolling into Paris.

The book is in a scrapbook format with actual photos, notes, and Rey's drawings commingled with Allen Drummond's nice pen and ink illustrations. Personally, Shannon and I think that the author, Louise Borden, gives a little too much back story. She reports on the couples German childhoods, their years in Brazil with pet monkeys (which is important to know!), and then their life in Paris and other parts of France. All of this was a little excruciating for Shannon. Then comes where I think the book should have started (after just a blip about their background). In order to escape the advancing German army, the Reys, along with about five million other people, decided to flee Paris and head south. It was the largest motorized evacuation in history and there was no room for the Reys on anything motorized. So they went bicycle shopping. The only bike left for sale was tandem and Margret wasn't going for it. So Hans (H. A.) bought parts to make two bikes that he cobbled together himself. On these, the Reys, and the manuscript that would be Curious George, pedaled to Portugal where they caught a train for the coast where they caught a ship for the western hemisphere. The Reys wound up in New York City and Curious George, published in 1941, wound up selling over twenty-seven million copies.

And I can't help but wonder what creations did not escape.

Ages 9-12

Activity: What was Hitler screaming into the phone in August of 1944? Solve this word puzzle to translate.


  1. It's great to have found your blog via your comment on Playing by the book - I shall certainly be returning!

  2. Thank you for stopping by and commenting on our site Had you not, we might never have known of this wonderful book. Curious George was a childhood favorite and the historic aspect of his creators is fascinating.