Kids explore the New Hampshire home of Curious George
This is a guest post by writer Andrea Calabretta–thanks, Andrea! Where do we go to meet the “man in the yellow hat?”
A Visit to Waterville Valley, Childhood Home of Curious George
Hans and Margret Rey, the creators of Curious George, fled Paris in 1940 with the manuscript of a children’s book in their luggage. Like many other Jews of the time, Hans and Margret left the city in a hurry—mere hours before it fell to the Nazis—and the story goes that a German officer who saw their illustrations of the lovable monkey allowed them to pass.
Years later, the Reys had sold the Curious George series to Houghton Mifflin, and Hans was at work on another book: The Stars: A New Way to See Them. Needing a good place to see stars, the couple found a small cottage in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.
They proceeded to spend summers there, inviting local children to regular “chalk talks,” where kids could watch Hans sketch and help him imagine new adventures for Curious George.
Curious George Cottage
Today, you can visit the Curious George Cottage and Studio in Waterville Valley, about 2 1/2 hours north of Boston in the White Mountain National Forest. Artist Nat Scrimshaw continues the tradition of chalk talks with local and visiting children. On Saturday afternoons, kids crowd around the local illustrator, and each one of them goes home with a poster-sized drawing.
The actual home where the Reys lived still stands, right next to the Waterville Elementary school. The picturesque red cottage is a meeting place for nature walks, snowman-building sessions and other family activities.
The surrounding Waterville Valley provides additional opportunities for family fun—including back-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe-ing, an astronomy observatory, an ice-skating rink and more.
Children as young as three can join the Kids’ Venture Kamps, and on-mountain childcare is also available.
After a day of skiing, grab a round of hot chocolates and take a horse-drawn sleigh ride across the valley for great views of the White Mountain National Forest.
Family Festival in August
Though Waterville Valley is often considered a winter travel destination, the Rey cottage also hosts a family festival in August, and summer activities include nature walks, farm visits, children’s theater and swimming.
Before You Go
Pick up a copy of The Journey That Saved Curious George, a children’s book that details the Reys’ story.
For more information on Waterville Valley, check out www.visitwatervillevalley.com.
Andrea Calabretta is a freelance writer, editor and blogger based in Boston, MA. Visit BellyGlad (https://bellyglad.blogspot.com) to read about her culinary adventures.
** Related Family Travel posts: How Books Can Enrich Travel With Your Kids and Literary Travel With Kids
** You can also find Curious George in Mississippi (thanks to my Twitter friend @shawnz for the link. I’m @SheilaS if you want to follow us on Twitter, a sort of mass IM/microblogging site.)