Curious George celebrated his 80th birthday on September 8, 2021. The Bienville Parish Library system is celebrating with all things Curious George! In fact, Curious George is the designated library ambassador with the brightly colored campaign, “Get Curious About Reading!” that ties perfectly into September’s Library Card Sign-Up Month.
The branches have lots of activity packets for children, with coloring sheets, face masks, and games. Some branches have a banana toss game, paper sack puppets, photo frames and treats available all month long. There are also bunches of Curious George picture books available to check out. From the original Curious George picture book from 1941 to the modern versions where Curious George is just as mischievous as ever, but he now has access to modern technology!
The History of Curious George Books
Curious George was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941 and for eighty years he has been capturing the hearts and minds of readers young and old throughout the world. Books about Curious George, including the seven original stories by Margret and Hans Rey, have sold over 75 million copies. So popular that his original story has never been out of print, George has become one of the most beloved and most recognizable characters from children’s literature. He has been featured in a Public Service Advertising literacy campaign in partnership with the Ad Council and the Library of Congress, and in 2012 Curious George was inducted into the Indie Choice Book Awards Picture Book Hall of Fame. In addition to the numerous books about his mischievous adventures, Curious George stars in the Emmy-award winning PBS television series Curious George and has also starred in three full-length movies.
About Margaret and Hans A. Rey
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. Margaret Elisabeth Waldstein Rey was also born in Hamburg on May 16, 1906. The two met briefly when Margret was a young girl, before she left Hamburg to study art. They were reunited a few years later, and married. They started their married life happily, but already they were beginning to see their beloved home of Germany entering a dark time with the rise of Nazi Germany.
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. They reached France just as the Nazis entered Paris! Luckily the Reys were already on their way out of France. 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.
Get Curious About Reading!
Your Bienville Parish Library has all the classic Curious George picture books written and illustrated by H.A. and Margaret Rey in its collection. There are other authors and illustrators that continue in the spirit of the Reys with the continuing stories of the irrepressibly curious monkey. After both of the Reys passed away — Hans in 1977 and Margret in 1996—George lives on in the Curious George Foundation. The foundation funds programs for children that share Curious George’s irresistible qualities—ingenuity, opportunity, determination, and curiosity in learning and exploring. The foundation supports community outreach programs that emphasize the importance of family, from counseling to peer support groups. The foundation also supports programs that benefit animals, through preservation as well as the prevention of cruelty to animals.
To find out more about H.A. and Margaret Rey and the world’s favorite curious monkey, visit the website http://www.bienvillelibrary.org and browse through the online catalog, or visit your neighborhood Bienville Parish Library and ask your knowledgeable librarian to help you “get curious about reading!”
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