Lisa Alcalay Klug’s new book, Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe, is a history and how-to manual of…well, being a cool Jew. Among other things, she has a yarmulke decoder, a “Marley or Matisyahu?” lyric contest, and the funniest example of Jewish Geography-in-action I’ve ever seen. But our favorite part of the book is this brief history of the book Curious George…and how it narrowly escaped from the Nazis. And just to give you an extra bonus, Klug has done a DVD-extras version of the page. Just click away to see.
The following is an excerpt from Cool Jew. Printed with permission, Andrews McMeel Publishing and Lisa Alcalay Klug, © Lisa Alcalay Klug 2008
Did you know Curious George is a Heebster? It’s true. The “parents” of Curious George, Hans Augusto Rey and his wife Margret Rey, first met in their native Hamburg, Germany. They remet and married in Rio De Janeiro.
Later, the happy couple moved to Paris and there, they conceived their story about a lovable, inquisitive monkey. As the Nazis began their advance on Paris, Hans realized they were in danger. Much like their beloved George might, Hans cobbled together spare parts into two bicycles. And in the early hours of June 14, 1940, he and Margret started pedaling.
Within hours, the Nazis occupied Paris but the Reys had already escaped to safety. Four days later they reached the Spanish border, bringing their precious manuscript with them. From there, they traveled on, to Lisbon, Brazil, New York City, and finally, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they lived out the rest of their days.
Like Babar, Bambi, Pippi Longstocking, Oliver, and other fictional childhood heroes, George is an orphan. And much like the Reys, he, too, is a refugee from another world. Echoing the Reys’ escape to freedom, each of the seven George books includes an antic chase scene, helping sell millions of books in many languages. Naturlich, naturally, there is a Yiddish version entitled George der Naygeriker.