Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I’ll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you’ll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you’ll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.



George promised to be good.
But it is easy for little monkeys to forget. 

from Curious George by H. A. Rey


Both H. A. (Hans Augusto) and Margret (Waldstein) were German Jews who escaped Europe during World War II. They met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; married in 1935; and turned a Paris honeymoon into a four-year residency where they began writing and illustrating children’s books. George got his start as Fifi, one of nine monkeys portrayed in their first book, Raffy and the 9 Monkeys, which was published in 1939. (It’s known as Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys in the United States.) The Reys escaped Paris by bicycle just a few days before the Nazis marched in; they made their way to America with a manuscript and drawings for a book about Fifi’s adventures.

Even though all seven Curious George books were co-created, Margret is acknowledged on only the last three. “When we first came to America, our publisher suggested we use my husband’s name because the children’s book field was so dominated by women. They thought it would sell better,” she said. “After a time, I thought, ‘Why the devil did I do that?’ so since then, my name has appeared also.”

Even though the Reys kept pet marmosets in Brazil and enjoyed visiting zoos in Paris and New York City, none of the monkeys depicted in their books had tails. When asked why, Rey replied that his monkey characters were a cross between a gibbon and an ape, and that when he first drew the story of Raffy, “the giraffe’s long neck and legs plus tails of all nine little monkeys made the drawings look like spaghetti!”


Journal Entry: Write about a time your child was a “curious George.” How did he/she show ingenuity, determination, and curiosity in learning and exploring the world? Did he/she get into trouble?


Do you have a Curious George fan in your family?

Check out this 2010 exhibition from The Jewish Museum, interactive timetable about the Rey’s escape from Paris, and this educational resource for teachers.


Karna Converse is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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