Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Story of Margret Ray, H.A. Ray and Curious George

The story of the Rays is remarkable.  Margret and H.A. or Hans were German Jews.  Hans developed a love of drawing, living across the street from the Hamburg zoo.  Margret was a writer.  They met in Brazil.  Hans was there selling bath tubs.  After marrying the returned to Europe to live in Paris.  There they published their first book, which introduced Curious George.  The book, "Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys" introduced a little monkey, Fifi, who would later become George.
Just before Paris fell to the Nazis, the Rays fled on bicycles.  They had the pictures for a new book, about George on the bicycles with them.  The crossed the French-Spanish border, and caught a train for Lisbon. Portugal.  From there the sailed to Brazil.  They were able to use Han's Brazilian passport to gain entry to the United States.  Margret minded the business end of things and negotiated for a publisher.  They were able to produce the first Curious George book in 1941.  However with the war, subsequent books were put on hold.  There was not enough paper to produce children's books at the time.  However the Rays would write and illustrate seven Curious George books.  Some of them dealt with going to the hospital, some helped teach younger children to read.  George goes up in to space in a rocket, and in another wins a medal.  He also deals with an ostrich at the zoo.  What ever the story, they are delightful, and the Rays knew how to entertain children.  They did not have any children of their own, but were often involved in projects to improve the lives of children.

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