Author/Illustrator: Tomi Ungerer Publisher: Tomi Ungerer/A Treasury of 8 Books, Phaidon, 2016 Age: 4+ Themes: treasury, story collection, Tomi Ungerer
Opening: Flix: Mr. Zeno Krall was a happy cat. He was well off, he loved his wife Cola, and they were healthy. He was even happier when she announced, “ Darjeeling, I am expecting!”
Summary: (from my library catalog) Flix, a dog born to cat parents, finds himself able to exist in two cultures, marries a cat, and campaigns for mutual respect between cats and dogs.
I like this book because: I appreciate this collection of 8 of Tomi Ungerer’s stories for all the extras: details about each one as to their origins, early sketches, process, and hidden tidbits! I’ve always admired his work and was happy to find this volume through my library. Flix is one of my favorites for the ability of the characters to adapt to absurdity as well as hardship, and above all getting along with people and family members, not just tolerating differences. But above all the humor in his illustrations!
Resources/activities: read all 8 stories and especially the “Behind the Scenes” details in conversation with Phaidon editor, Maya Gartner.
For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.
Author/Illustrator: Sergio Ruzzier Publisher: Clarion, 2015 Summary: review from Kirkus – HERE
Author/Illustrator: Tomi Ungerer Publisher: Phaidon, 2014 (first published in Gernman, Diogenes, 1973) Summary: review from Kirkus – HERE
Author/Illustrator: R.O. Blechman Publisher: Creative Editions, 2013 Summary: review from Kirkus – HERE
Why I like these books: I found these three in short succession, so I thought I’d share them together. Each has deceptively simple yet engaging artwork and at the same time is completely unique in content – key to a great concept book! And my personal preference – they’re all humorous! I’ve linked each for further information via their Kirkus review (above).
Resources/Activities: Read them together – or with other counting books; create your own, with drawings or photos of items from the classroom or home;
For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.
I just had to jump in, so forgive me, please, if I am not following guidelines. In the vein of ‘make new friends’, but keep the old’, here are 10 picture book gems I wouldn’t want to live without, and I hope one or two may be new to you. Of course, I’m using the label old rather loosely – a book I may have read to my now adult kids. In no particular order:
Today is Tomi Ungerer’s birthday and we need to celebrate!
Publisher: Phaidon Press, 2013 Ages: 5-8yrs Themes: children, fog, coastal/rural life Opening:Finn and Cara were brother and sister. They lived by the sea in the back of beyond. (the opening sets the fairytale feel) Summary: (from the publisher) No one has ever returned from the mysterious Fog Island, but when Finn and Cara get castaway on its murky shores, they discover things are not quite as they expect… Will anyone ever believe them?
Why I like this book: though written in a rather adult voice, the child in the author is definitely inviting the child in the reader with lines like these: ‘Fog Island loomed like a jagged black tooth’, ‘But to be lonesome is not a reason to get bored’, or ‘It tasted awful but felt strangely heartening’. Living in a very dry, landlocked place I miss the ocean and fog – the art in the book present a cloudy, cool and moist feel so well I can smell the salt on the air. A perfect read for a grey day – don’t forget a cup of tea!
Resources/activities – for kids: use this book when studying a weather unit, and make fog in a jar – HERE; check out this German Kindergarten, ‘Die Katze’ designed by Tomi Ungerer and architect Ayla-Suzan Yöndel; just for adults: Check out the wonderful documentary, Far Out Isn’t Far Enough (NOT for the little uns‘): HERE; visit the Tomi Ungerer Museum: International Center for Illustration in Strasbourg (voted one of the 10 best museums in Europe by the Council of Europe); for interested adults: watch the B-movie horror film (same title, not the same content!) from 1945 (poster image below); if ever in Nantucket visit the Fog Island Cafe;
Author/Illustrator: Tomi Ungerer Publisher: Phaidon Press, 2011 (First published in German, Diogenes, 1980) Ages: 4-8yrs Themes: kangaroos, flight, courage, uniqueness Opening:Adelaide’s parents were surprised when they saw that their daughter had wings. Summary: (from my library catalog) Adelaide, a kangaroo with wings, discovers that her unique anatomy and abilities bring her fame and fortune in Paris.
I like this book because:the story line does not follow ‘traditional’ patterns and norms, as in escalating scenes or the protagonist having a strong hand in solving the ‘conflict’. Adelaide doesn’t see her uniqueness as a problem, she embraces it. That was enough to satisfy me, as well as Ungerer’s ability to tell so much with so few lines. I recently watched a documentary on Ungerer, Far Out Isn’t Far Enough, and was touched by the way Maurice Sendalk spoke of him. In an article Sendak once described Ungerer’s work as passionate and personal – “it’s marvelous and it’s cuckoo and it’s that kind of veracity that’s always made for good children’s literature” (The New York Times, Sept 2011). Random tidbit: Amazon has a choking hazard warning for this book on their site! Go figure!
Resources/activities: Vintage Kid’s Books My Kid Loves posted a recommendation, and a list of Ungerer titles you might be interested in – click on any of the links for more on each book; discuss things that might make us unique, special and different from other family members or friends.
Perfect Picture Book Friday is on hiatus for the summer, but there are still plenty of selections on a themed and alphabetized list, each with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE
“Be different so that people can see you clearly amongst the crowds.” ― Mehmet Murat ildan
Author/Illustrator: Tomi Ungerer Publisher: Diogenes, 1963 (Die Drei Raeuber); Phaidon, 2008 Age: 4-8 Themes: robbers, orphans, girls Opening:Once upon a time there were three fierce robbers. They went about hidden under large black capes and tall black hats. Summary: (from Publisher’s Weekly) One bitter, black night, three ferocious highwaymen meet their match in a spunky orphan named Tiffany; Ungerer’s bold, fanciful artwork, rendered primarily in black and deep blue tones, enliven this cautionary tale of foul deeds transmogrified. (Don’t you just love it? Transmogrified!)
Why I like it: Tomi Ungerer is many an graphic designer/illustrator’s idol. Okay, one! It’s not just the clear simplicity (but that plays a BIG role!), it’s the fearlessness of his storytelling. Should three weaponed robbers evoke compassion? Nah! Do they? You betcha!
Resources/Activities: read more Ungerer!; ask children to illustrate a scene using a limited palette; check out the activities for this book from Scholastic – HERE
And it’s NOVEMBER: cold, dark, dreary.
Well, there’s Thanksgiving.
AND these challenges I signed up for – again!!!
PiBoIdMo with Tara Lazar (The Monstore, illustrated by James Burks) offers picture book writers the needed push to come up with ideas …and Sketch A Day Month with Linda Silvestri (click on images for more info)
All so we can enjoy the Holidays filled to the brim with satisfaction, and the materials to tackle the next challenge…