Voila! It was there! A book that I had been waiting to read. On my desk I found The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H. A. Rey by Louise Borden, illustrated by Allan Drummond. Oooh, it was a nice looking book!
Everyone remembers Curious George, the mischievous monkey of picture book fame. If we did not read the books as children, we read them to our children. As a parent, I grew rather tired of them. Still, I wanted to read this book about an episode in the authors’ lives.
Margret and H. A. Rey were living in Paris at the start of World War II, and being Jewish, were very concerned for their safety. Both had been born in Hamburg and had become a citizen of Brazil, but they had been in France for four years working on children’s books. Two manuscripts were ready for publication, one about a penguin names Whiteblack and another about a monkey named Fifi, but the European publishers no longer had paper. The couple’s preparations to flee Paris became more serious when the Germans crossed through Belgium and the Netherlands. Getting all the paperwork completed was maddening.
Louise Borden heard the story of the Reys’ escape years ago and wanted to know more. She visited de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi to find the Reys’ papers, wrote to people who had known the Reys, and traveled to Paris and the towns through which the couple escaped. She enlisted Allan Drummond to illustrate the story.
The result is a fine book for youth and adults. I enjoyed looking at Drummond’s rich illustrations, showing the Reys on their bicycles in Paris, with people in their scarves and berets reading newspapers, crowded onto buses, carrying babies, all fleeing as Nazi planes dot the sky. Photos of the Reys, their passports, their day calendars, and other artifacts and illustrations of Curious George and Whiteblack also decorate the pages.
The penguin is really cute. I should read Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World soon.
Borden, Louise. The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H. A. Rey. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. ISBN 0618339248