A whole other story lives behind the mischievous monkey and the man with the yellow hat whose adventures were told by Margret and H. A. Rey. A generous dose of the monkey’s curiosity could have one wondering about such questions as:
• What was George’s original name?
• What was the Reys’ original name, and why did they change it?
• How did George deliver the Reys (more than once) from being accused as spies?
• What animal was in the first story they wrote about and the last to be published – after their deaths?
• Why did George wind up in Hattiesburg, MS? [An event proclaimed on t-shirts worn by some of my grandchildren and me – available from the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection]
If you would like the answers to these questions and more, the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson has an exhibition “Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H. A. Rey” running through July 21 with all the answers. (Suggested attire in the museum brochure: Jungle Chic, Yellow Hat Optional)
My two aunts, uncle, cousin, cousin’s husband, my husband and I enjoyed the Reys’ excursions with George, beautifully done by the museum, along with a nice lunch at their Palette Café last Friday – not a kid among us unless you count second childhoods or those who refuse to grow up. Now you might say you are too far away to take this in, but we met a group of six or seven George-lovers from Texas who had flown in that morning to see the exhibit and were flying back out that night. They seemed satisfied that it was worth the trip!
My cousin said parents loved the stories because they saw their children in George. I agreed with her and added that children loved the stories because they saw themselves.
Just in case you can’t get to Mississippi to take this in, you can find the answers in the Rey picture book biography, well-told by meticulous researcher Louise Borden, in The Journey that Saved Curious George.
I do hope curiosity doesn’t just belong to monkeys.