As a librarian, though, I feel like I should plan events that tie in with books and authors.
Since September 16th was the birthday of H.A. Rey what would be a better way to celebrate than having a Curious George Party!!
I love reading about authors and the stories behind their books.
The story of Curious George travels from Hamburg, to Rio de Janeiro, to Paris, to Lisbon, and to New York City. It involves the famed Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, a wedding, bicycles, a train, Nazis, and a giraffe named Raffy.
Hans Augusta Rey spent his childhood in Hamburg, Germany near the Hagenbeck Zoo which is where he fell in love with animals and practiced drawing them. While working in Brazil he was reunited with fellow Hamburg native, Margeret Waldstein. The two fell in love, married, and decided to settle in Paris. Hans had published several cartoons featuring a giraffe in a French newspaper and a publisher asked him to expand his ideas into a picture book. Raffy and the Nine Monkeys (or Cecily and the Nine Monkeys in the U.S. and Great Britain) featured a small monkey named George that Hans and Margaret decided to make the main character in another book. Unfortunately, it was 1940 and springtime in Paris and the Nazis were about to invade France. Since the Reys were Jewish they decided to make their escape on two bicycles that Hans built from spare parts. The Reys rode the bicycles for four days to the Spanish border with only the clothes they were wearing, some food, and five new manuscripts one of which was Curious George. When they reached the border the Reys sold the bicycles to buy train tickets to Lisbon and from there sailed to Brazil and eventually made it to New York City, where they became celebrated children's authors. Hans and Margaret are such an inspiring couple not only for their courage and bravery, but also for their deep and long-lasting love and creative partnership.
I know that I kind of went off on a tangent, there, but the story behind Curious George was so uplifting and fascinating I just had to share some of it.
Now on to the Curious George Party that the library held for toddlers and preschoolers.
First I handed out snacks (banana chips and chocolate animal crackers) on a big yellow hat plate which I made by hot gluing a yellow cup to a yellow plate. While the kids ate their snack I read them Curious George Vistis the Library (of course!). After that we sang Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree during which I gave each child the chance to wear my big alligator puppet and chomp a monkey.
Each child got to make a Curious George puppet to take home, which were really simple. I had all of the pieces cut out ahead of time and the kids just glued George together, gave him googly eyes, and drew on the mouth and nose. I had printed Curious George bookmarks to color and take home too.
Another game that I had was toss the banana. I had taken the tiles out of two bananagrams games and put just regular bean bags in the bananas (letting toddlers throw hard scrabble tiles would probably be a bad idea). I put hula hoops on the floor and the kids had to try and toss the banana in the hoops.
Mostly, though, the kids just danced which was a blast for them and so much fun for the adults to watch!