Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tomi Ungerer...

I fell a little bit in love this morning. While looking through the little ladies' library books, I came across a slim paperpack titled 'Emile' about a heroic octopus with nostalgic tendancies. The story was sweet, funny, and beautifully illustrated, the kind of story that's hard to find these days for my 8 and 6 year-old.

I found it hard to believe that this was just an ordinary children's book, so I read the author bio at the end, and lo and behold, this was not written by just any old children's author, this was written and illustrated by Tomi Ungerer, an award-winning author, illustrator and designer. So I opened the vast encyclopedia called Google to find out more.

As well as writing and/or illustrating more than 30 children's books, including The Mellops Go Flying, Flat Stanley, and Moon Man, he also produced illlustrations for The New York Times, Esquire, and Harper's Bazaar.

Ungerer also produced anti-Vietnam posters, wrote adult fiction with a heavy emphasis on eroticism, and designed various things, from film posters and political cartoons to an aqueduct in Strasbourg. Hellooo, over-achiever!

Born in Alsace, he lived through the German occupation of the region, and later moved to the States, then Cananda, and now resides in Ireland. Although I haven't yet checked out any of his erotic fiction or political illustrations, I think Tomi Ungerer sounds like an interesting man indeed.

If you haven't had a chance to read any of his children's books (although he is French, most of the books are written in English), I would definitely recommend them, as much for the sweet stories as for the illustrations. Ungerer has been described as 'the most famous children's book author you've never heard of', which I guess was true for me until today. It seems like alot of his children's books are no longer in print, so it may mean a trip to the library, but I promise it will be a worthwhile trip!


Anonymous said...

I'll have to try these on my English students!

The Duchess said...

That would be fun, Dedene. I think some of the illustrations could lead to interesting conversations!

Anonymous said...

Tomi Ungerer is one of my favourite childrens authors (my own favourite is the Beast of Monsieur Racine). In terms of over achieving you should have a look as his Bio at it's an eye-opener!

The Duchess said...

Hi Anon-
We have the French version of the Beast of Monsieur Racine, but I hadn't realised this was Ungerer. I believe it was one of the Ecole de Loisir books the girls brought home from school.

And thanks for the link. Wow, is there anything M Ungerer hasn't done in his life? As well as writing and illustrating, he has at different times been the Food Editor of Playboy magazine, an honorary president of the European SPCA,and an Officer of the Legion d’Honneur in France.

A think a seat at my ultimate dinner party has just been reserved! lol

Sara Louise said...

just checked Amazon and there are some english versions in stock. Now I know what my niece is getting for Xmas :-)

The Duchess said...

Hi Sara,
Think they would make great xmas gifts! Glad you found some.

Tammy said...

He is more of a renaissance man than I realized! My little ones have at least three of his books. But not the octopus one, which really looks quite sweet, if that illustration is anything to go by.

The Duchess said...

Hi Tammy,
We love 'Emile' here, such fun illustrations!

Katerina said...

Lovely blog!
I'll be looking forward to read more of your posts!


The Duchess said...

Thanks Katerina!

trashmaster46 said...

I so need to find this. The picture alone is worth finding the book.

Just for the sheer fun & silliness of it, have you read the "Monsieur Pamplemousse" series by Michael Bond?

The Duchess said...

Hi Trashmaster-
Really worth finding, my girls love his illustrations. Haven't come across the Michael Bond series, will have to take a look. Thanks for stopping by!