You might already know that the Children’s Literature Research Collection archivists are a little nutty about Tomi Ungerer. Ever since we processed his papers last year, it seems like it’s been all Ungerer, all the time! If you’re unfamiliar with his work, we urge you to run to your nearest library and find a copy of The Three Robbers or Moon Man or Crictor. A multifaceted and prolific author and illustrator of works for both children and adults, Ungerer has lately been rediscovered in the United States. The publisher Phaidon has been republishing his books in lovely new editions, and this year, in honor of his 80th birthday, exhibitions of his work for children are on display at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Mass., and at the Tomi Ungerer Museum in Strasbourg, France. The Free Library of Philadelphia is fortunate to have what is possibly the largest collection of Ungerer’s children’s work in the United States, and we were pleased to be able to lend many items to both of those exhibits.
We’re even more excited, though, that Tomi Ungerer will be here IN PERSON next Tuesday, June 14th, as part of our Author Events Series! For the past few days, we’ve been running around like manic toddlers who’ve eaten a full carton of Pixy Stix and washed down the sugar with soda pop. Our attention spans are totally shot. My hands are shaking as I type this. Our enthusiasm cannot be contained! (For those of you keeping track, that was the third exclamation point in this post so far.) And until 7:30 p.m. rolls around on June 14th, we're probably not going to be much better. In the meantime, though, we’ve been re-reading all of Ungerer’s books and appreciating his sly wit--someone just pointed out the framed painting of The Titanic, signed T. Ungerer and quietly tucked into the background of an illustration for The Clambake Mutiny--and the sharply satirical worldview of books like Basil Ratzki and Rufus. We’ve also kept ourselves busy by installing an exhibit of Ungerer’s works for children from our collection, on the ground floor right outside of the auditorium. You don’t have to go to far-off places like Massachusetts or France to enjoy Ungerer’s distinctive genius; drop by to see the exhibit, currently on display, and be sure to join us next Tuesday as Tomi Ungerer HIMSELF, live and in person, talks about his work at the Parkway Central Library!
- Adrienne Pruitt