Y’all, I was at the library yesterday (our weekly event, you know) and found this fantastic book for children while browsing their NEW section.
The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey
Written by Louisa Borden and illustrated by Allan Drummond, this is the story of Margret and H.A. Rey. I knew a smidgeon about their background but not much so this title really caught my eye.
The Reys were both German Jews. You know where this is going right away don’t you? Partly. Their background actually has them travelling all over the world, it seems. They actually re-met and married in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They had evidently known each other from Hamburg, Germany, before they each left to pursue opportunities.
While in Brazil, they became citizens and then, after a while, they returned to Europe. While not planning to, they ended up settling in Paris. While there, Hitler continued to gain power. Eventually, war began. And, like many others throughout Europe, they worried about safety.
Eventually, they had to flee Paris. They had no idea when they began preparing to leave that they would just miss disaster multiple times but the slimmest of margins. Getting themselves bicycles, they literally pedaled out of Paris in the nick of time, heading south. They carried the barest of possession with them, some of which included the manuscripts for several children’s books they were working on.
They were able to get our of France, just barely and with almost no money left. They were able to get a bit more money and get on a boat out of Portugal after making their way through Spain. After arriving in Brazil, they were able to find passage on a ship to America. Safe arrival in America came four months after pedaling out of Paris. What a journey.
And through it all, they carried with them the manuscript for the children’s book we now know as Curious George.
This fantastic children’s biography is written with simple text that is easy to understand, though still interesting for someone like me. It is about 70 pages long and presented as a children’s picture book, though it is broken up into sections like a chapter book. Each set of pages is wonderfully illustrated. Some are original for this book but many are the Rey’s drawings for some of their children’s books. There are also quite a few pictures of the Rey’s at different times in their journeys and life. Another inclusion that is really interesting are images of many of the documents of the Rey’s lives – letters, journal pages, stamps, and more.
This is a well-written biography that children will be able to understand. It gives a solid understanding of some of the fear that people would have faced during the German invasions of WWII, as well as the advantage some folks had over others in cases where money made the difference.
If you are doing an author study, this would be a great addition. It is also a good addition to a WWII study. A neat find!