MAGNOLIA — The curious story behind the story of Curious George was shared by Rotarian Adriane Shore at the club’s Dec. 12 meeting at LJ’s Café in Magnolia.
A retired preschool special education teacher, Shore recalled her own memories of growing up with Curious George books, and how it led her to eventually begin collecting Curious George memorabilia. That collection now includes books, toys, clothes, blankets, puzzles — and so much more that now fills display cabinets and much of the Shores’ basement.
Along the way, Shore also learned of the incredible story of Curious George’s creators, Hans and Margret Rey, German Jews who, in 1940, were living in Paris. Still in Paris at the time of the Nazi occupation of the city at the outset of World War II, they escaped on bicycles, just ahead of the approaching German army, with the first manuscript of Curious George in the front bicycle basket. They made their way south to Portugal, finding passage to Brazil and finally to New York, where they continued to write children’s books. They eventually settled in Cambridge, Mass.
The first story published in 1939 was Cecily G and the Nine Monkeys. Their next work spotlighted the smallest, most mischievous of those nine monkeys. That little monkey was first called Fifi but later named Curious George, with a penchant for getting himself into and out of trouble in nearly every imaginable situation ever since.
Shore’s curiosity also brought the entire Shore family into the spotlight as a young Japanese-American film student, Ema Ryan Yamazaki, undertook to create a documentary tracing the lives of Hans and Margret Rey, Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat. The Shores traveled to Cambridge, the site of the world’s self-proclaimed only Curious George store near Harvard Square (since closed and relocating), to participate in a fundraising event to support the documentary project. Asked to bring some of her own memorabilia for display, Shore and family met the documentary cast and creators.
Dubbed “Curious George Superfan” by Ema, Shore’s cameo appears in the documentary and all members of the Shore family are mentioned with Adriane “Superfan” Shore in the credits.
Rotarians also were provided a glimpse of the documentary, appropriately called “Monkey Business.” The documentary is available on Amazon Prime.