The Original Curious George
By H. A. Rey
(HMH Books, Library Binding, 9780395922729, 64pp.)
Publication Date: October 1998
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On June 14, 1940, Hans and Margret Rey fled Paris as the German army invaded the city. Escaping on bicycles, they took only winter coats and four picture books strapped to the racks. Among those books were the watercolors and a rough text for Fifi, later known to the world as Curious George. However, when Curious George was actually published in the United States in 1941, these original watercolors were not used for the printing. Hans Rey was required by his editor to redraw the entire book, creating preseparated art, so that costs would be minimal. The Reys retained the original art and would, on rare occasion, treat carefully chosen friends and collectors to George as he was first envisioned in Paris those many years ago. During their lifetimes they parted with only five pieces of the extraordinary art. For this edition, the original Curious George drawings have been retrieved and reassembled, using modern reproductive techniques.
Hans Augusto Rey was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1898. As a child, he spent much of his free time in that city's famous Hagenbeck Zoo drawing animals. After serving in the army during World War I, he studied philology and natural science at the University of Hamburg. He then married Margret Rey and they moved to Montmartre for four years. The manuscript for the first Curious George books was one of the few items the Reys carried with them on their bicycles when they escaped from Paris in 1940. Eventually, they made their way to the United States, and Curious George was published in 1941. Curious George has been published in many languages, including French, German, Japanese, Afrikaans, and Norwegian. Additional Curious George books followed, as well as such other favorites as CECILY G. AND THE NINE MONKEYS and FIND THE CONSTELLATIONS.