The Jour­ney That Saved Curi­ous George: The True Wartime Escape of Mar­gret and H.A. Rey

Louise Bor­den; Allan Drum­mond, illus.
  • Review
By – August 6, 2012
This delight­ful book relates the har­row­ing escape of authors Mar­gret and H.A. Rey (of Curi­ous George fame) as they jour­ney through occu­pied Paris in 1940 and even­tu­al­ly make it to New York. Both Hans Rey­ers­back and Mar­garete Wald­stein grew up in Ham­burg in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry and sep­a­rate­ly found their way to Rio de Janeiro, where they mar­ried and began a life togeth­er as artists. On a vis­it back to Europe, they fell in love with Paris and decid­ed to stay. As Hans was work­ing on the man­u­script about a curi­ous lit­tle mon­key called The Adven­tures of Fifi,” war began and even­tu­al­ly the artists found them­selves, as Ger­man-born Jews, des­per­ate­ly need­ing to flee. Author Louise Bor­den does a ter­rif­ic job of explain­ing the his­tor­i­cal con­text to young read­ers. She con­veys the excite­ment and adven­ture of the Reys’ des­per­ate bicy­cle ride through the French coun­try­side by often refer­ring to the small diary that Hans kept with him at that time. The illus­tra­tor, Allan Drum­mond, has imi­tat­ed the charm­ing style of H.A. Rey, and this adds to the delight of the book. Also includ­ed are numer­ous pho­tographs, diary entries and orig­i­nal Rey draw­ings, and oth­er inter­est­ing addi­tions that enhance the sto­ry. This book brings to life a fas­ci­nat­ing time in his­to­ry that most young chil­dren today do not under­stand. It is also a non­threat­en­ing way to intro­duce the con­cept of Jews need­ing to flee before the Holo­caust. It will prove pop­u­lar for any­one of any age who loves well-designed pic­ture books and, espe­cial­ly, the excel­lent work of Mar­garet and H.A. Rey. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 8 – 12.
Lisa Sil­ver­man is direc­tor of Sinai Tem­ple’s Blu­men­thal Library in Los Ange­les and a for­mer day school librar­i­an. She is the for­mer chil­dren’s book review edi­tor of Jew­ish Book World.

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