Happy Birthday Margaret and H. A. Rey! Sept. 16

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Who isn’t smitten with Curious George? No matter your age, the inquisitive little fellow who always seems to get into one scrape after another has, in all likelihood, captured your heart.

Perhaps his popularity lies in the predictability of his unpredictability. You know that the second the man with the yellow hat leaves the house, warning George to be careful, George is going to get into trouble. And when George starts getting into trouble, he only digs himself deeper.

As Margret Rey observed, “George can do what kids can’t do. He can paint a room from the inside. He can hang from a kite in the sky. He can let the animals out of their pens on the farm. He can do all these naughty things that kids would like to do.” One cannot give enough credit to the Reys. H. A.’s delightful illustrations and Margret’s clear and precise turn of phrase may appear effortless, but that’s only because they labored over each book to achieve that perfect look and tone.

Instead of relying on marketing surveys for book ideas, H. A. and Margret Rey each looked to the child within. “I know what I liked as a child," H. A. once said, "and I don’t do any book that I, as a child, wouldn’t have liked.”

Here are some of the wonderful George books available at your library:

Also an amazing book about the journey of the Reys to escape Nazi Germany in the nick of time:

 

Hans Augusto Rey was born on September 16, 1898, in Hamburg, Germany. He grew up there near the world-famous Hagenbeck Zoo, and developed a lifelong love for animals and drawing. Margarete Elisabeth Waldstein (who would be known to most of the world as Margret Rey) was also born in Hamburg on May 16, 1906.In the 1930's they began work on a manuscript that featured the lovable and exceedingly curious little monkey. But the late 1930s and early ’40s were a tumultuous time in Europe, and before the new manuscript could be published, the Reys—both German Jews—found themselves in a horrible situation. Hitler and his Nazi party were tearing through Europe, and they were poised to take control of Paris.

Knowing that they must escape before the Nazis took power, Hans cobbled together two bicycles out of spare parts. Early in the morning of June 14, 1940, the Reys set off on their bicycles. They brought very little with them on their predawn flight — only warm coats, a bit of food, and five manuscripts, one of which was Curious George. The Nazis entered Paris just hours later, but the Reys were already on their way out. They rode their makeshift bicycles for four long days until reaching the French-Spanish border, where they sold them for train fare to Lisbon. From there they made their way to Brazil and on to New York City, beginning a whole new life as children’s book authors.

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