H.A. and Margret Rey Children’s Room
Who are Margret and H.A. Rey, and why is the Children’s Room in the Central Library named after them?
Margret and H.A. Rey created the world’s most famous monkey, Curious George. Through their cherished children’s books, the Reys brought to life for thousands of youngsters the antics of one little monkey and his protector, “the man in the yellow hat.”
While living in Paris the Reys merged their talents: Margret as the writer and H.A. as the illustrator, to create their first children’s book, Cecily G and the Nine Monkeys, one of which was Curious George. In 1940 they fled the Nazis in Paris, riding bicycles and taking only their manuscripts. Among those manuscripts was Curious George. In the fall of that same year, the Curious George series was officially born when the Reys made their way to New York City and signed a contract with the Houghton Mifflin Company.
After living and working in Greenwich Village for twenty-three years, Margret and H.A. settled in Cambridge, MA, where they continued to create books for children. The Reys’ literary endeavors spanned over 50 years and remain popular among children and adults. With over 20 million copies in 12 languages in print, the Curious George series has become a wonderful testament to the timelessness of books and how the joys of reading can connect a world.
In her later years, Margret Rey became a great supporter and friend of the Boston Public Library, generously donating funds for children’s needs throughout the library system. Her support allows for substantial improvements in youth programming and children’s area furnishings throughout the 26 inner city neighborhood branch libraries.
The Margret and H.A. Rey Children’s Room stands as a lasting tribute to the Reys’ contributions toward the enrichment of children, literacy, and the Boston Public Library.
A bronze plaque greets visitors at the entrance to the Rey Children’s Room of the General Library, Boston Public Library. The plaque bears this message:
The restored Rey Children’s Room is a fitting remembrance of a remarkable woman, Elvira Louise Vecchione Artick. Elvira was educated in the Boston Public Schools and graduated from Boston Teachers College in 1927. Immediately Elvira embarked on a career with children and books that was destined to encompass her years in and out of the classroom.
Elvira Louise Vecchione Artick died on March 30, 1990. With the restoration of the Rey Children’s Room in 1994, her life in the enchanted kingdom of books for children will be long remembered.
In addition to the restoration of the Rey Children’s Room, Mr. Artick also established The Children’s Room Fund. The Fund supports the on-going needs of the Central Library’s Rey Children’s Room.
Contributions to The Children’s Room Fund may be made by check, payable to the Trustees of the Boston Public Library, P.O. Box 286, Boston MA 02117. All contributions are tax deductible.
Additional Information about Elvira Louise Artick
Elvira Louise Vecchione was born in East Boston on March 24, 1906, the third of 14 children. She was educated in Boston Public Schools and graduated from Boston Teachers College, Class of 1927.
After her graduation from Teachers College she began temporary service as a first grade teacher. On February 8, 1928 she received a permanent appointment to the Chapman District, East Boston, where she taught elementary school for the next 16 years. Her love of children and dedication to teaching will remain an inspiration to all that knew her.
In July 1944 Elvira married Robert Artick, who was on furlough from Army service in World War II. She resigned her position since, at that time, married women were not permitted to continue their teaching.
After the war the ban on married teachers was lifted. Mrs. Artick resumed her teaching as a substitute from 1954 to 1961. In 1964 she was appointed a provisional teacher to the Ellis Mendell School. When she passed a requisite examination, she was appointed permanent primary teacher to the fourth grade.
Mrs. Artick retired from the Boston school system in 1976 when she reached the age of seventy. Her formal career, dedicated to teaching children how to read, numbered 32 years. She counted teaching as a wonderful profession.
The children Mrs. Artick reached and the books she opened to brighten their eager minds are countless. We can only guess how many Make Way for Ducklings, Charlotte’s Web or jaunty jingles by Dr. Seuss delighted youngsters, thanks to Elvira Artick. We do know that she repeatedly said, “If you can read, you can do almost anything!” Her love of children and dedication to teaching will remain an inspiration to all that knew her.
As a student herself, Elvira virtually devoured books and learning in the Library. She took special pride that her city’s library and the Boston Teachers College were wonderfully free to all.
Elvira Artick had many nieces and nephews, and will always be loved and remembered as “Aunt Wiza”.
Although Robert Artick pays tribute exclusively to his wife, it should be noted here that he shared her commitment to teaching and books. For 23 years he taught at Hyde Park High School. His subject was the very beginning, the foundation of books: PRINTING.