This oversized picture book by writer-illustrator Tomi Ungerer comes in an illustrated box. The compilation includes eight stories published between 1960 and the late 1990s. In The Three Robbers, a trio of criminals use a blunderbuss, a pepper-blower, and a red axe to take jewels and coins from people. But when they steal an orphan named Tiffany, they make her a home, and a whole village. Their sharing is recognized and celebrated by the community. Zeralda’s Ogre is about how an ogre with an appetite for children learns to appreciate and enjoy homemade meals. Moon Man is a story about the Moon escaping jail (using his phases) after visiting the earth. Fog Island reveals how a pair of children learn not to be afraid of the fog after they meet the long-haired man who makes it. The Hat is a story about how a fly-away hat brings riches to people, and the story of Emilie the octopus is about the friendship between man and animal. Flix, the pug dog born to cats, is a story about a dog learning to live in a world where he looks like an outsider. But by being himself, he leads a fulfilling life which includes friends, marriage, and children (a kitten). Otto is set during the war, and contains a character who wears a yellow star. Two friends lose touch with each other during the war, but a toy bear reunites them when they are older.
The beautiful book begins with a letter from Ungerer and ends with a twenty-three page interview where he talks about each story. Back material also includes a one page biography and several pages of previously unpublished illustrations and photographs. This Hans Christian Andersen Prize winner writes stories for children that contain fear (robbers and ogres), misunderstood characters (a dog born to a pair of cats), and fantastical elements (space travel and a magical hat). After reading the interviews in the book, I went back and re-read the stories to see the surprises Ungerer incorporated into the illustrations that I had missed. And after learning the bear in Otto was based on a real bear the author found in a Canadian antique store, I was captivated by the story because of how the author bought him because the bear “had such a desperate expression on its face”. I fell in love with the bear too; just by looking at his photograph. Pairing the interview with the stories makes them more meaningful because the author explains how they are based on his life experiences and inspirations.
To win this new picture book, be the first person to email [email protected] with the name of your favourite children’s book.