“I can be carried away freely into my childhood fantasies,” Tomi Ungerer once said, “but I also lived through a war as a child, and saw a lot of terrible things.”
These days we hear often that books created for children should help acquaint them with the darker circumstances of life, as fairy tales did in earlier times. Ungerer, who died Feb. 8 at 87, showed the world how to do that amid the particular darkness of the 20th century.
The “terrible things” Ungerer saw growing up during the Second World War in Nazi-occupied Alsace — bloodshed, hunger, homes ransacked and families carted off, menacing uniformed guards with guns everywhere — made their way into his picture books for children, transformed into a liberating, high-spirited visual vocabulary. He took the iconography of violence and made it both whimsical and righteous.
“No one, I dare say, no one was as original,” Ungerer’s friend Maurice Sendak said of him. “Tomi influenced everybody.” And while there are children’s book creators working now who brilliantly incorporate trickery, death and danger into their stories (Jon Klassen comes to mind), there’s nothing out there like Ungerer’s books any more. Maybe that’s because no one else is willing to pull the mask back on the grown-ups — their wars, their lies, their needless aggressions — with quite as much gleeful honesty.
Ungerer also made celebrated political posters, toys, drawings and books for adults, and bondage-themed erotica that, discovered by the nation’s librarians in the 1970s, made him persona non grata in the children’s books world for over a decade. Late in his life, a resurgence of interest in his jaw-dropping artistic range, and his adorably outre personality, led to a cult-favorite documentary and a show at the Drawing Center that let the public see how the children’s books were part of a whole body of work whose boldness still astounds. Many of his picture books were brought back into print by Phaidon in gorgeous editions.
After his death, Fantagraphics announced that it would rerelease his controversial illustrated books for adults. But it was the more than two dozen picture books he worked on — full of guns, blood, crime, oppression and tenderness — that not only gained him the most fame during his lifetime, but perhaps best expressed his political and artistic vision in its fullness and deep humanity.
A good children’s book will clearly be on the side of the child, and yet what’s striking about Ungerer’s picture books is that they so often take that side while putting adults in the central roles. Adults, after all, dominate the lives of children, for better and — too often — worse. Ungerer knew that what children wish for most of all is to get the grown-ups to see things their way.
Some of his early books have no child characters at all, including two of my favorites, “Crictor,” from 1958, and “Rufus: The Bat Who Loved Colors,” from 1961. Both are sweet through and through, yet full of alarming imagery and sudden dreadful turns.
The adults, often benighted souls, are made to look comically knobby and misshapen. The real beauties are the friendly creatures from unjustly reviled species. Crictor, a sinuous boa constrictor, is the beloved pet of Madame Bodot, sent to her by her son, who is “in Africa studying reptiles.” Horrified at first, she comes to love the snake, even, in one of Ungerer’s fantastically shocking images, “feeding it bottles of milk” as it is curled in her lap like a baby.
She takes Crictor to the school where she teaches, and he forms his body into the letters of the alphabet, charmingly. When the boa foils some robbers who break in to her house, guns at the ready, and tie up and gag the prim Madame Bodot ( the book perhaps snuck in an innocent preview of Ungerer’s sexual bondage-related art), he becomes a hero.
[Read our obituary of Tomi Ungerer.]
“Rufus” tells the story of a bat who, glimpsing a drive-in movie one night while out hunting, becomes enamored of colors and starts venturing out of his cave during the day, painting himself in bright hues. Rufus himself is as cute as any puppy, with giant, hopeful-looking ears. “But some people were frightened when they saw Rufus, and they tried to scare him away,” Ungerer writes, on a shattering page that shows nothing but the noses of three guns firing upward into the sky.
A “famous butterfly collector” named Dr. Tarturo comes to the rescue, gently washing Rufus off and bandaging his wounds, then inviting the bat to live in his cellar. In Ungerer’s universe, scientists are among the good grown-ups, the saviors of the persecuted. They are the harmless seekers of truth, the generous counterpoints to the hotheaded, gun-toting robbers and police officers and military men.
In the utterly delightful “Moon Man,” another book about a misunderstood outsider chased down by the authorities, the Moon comes down to earth, eager to join the festivities he observes from the sky. Ungerer paints him as a sweet-faced, light-footed innocent, white and round as a communion wafer. But he’s branded a threat and thrown in jail, escaping only when, having waned into a crescent, he fits through the bars.
The Moon Man finds his way to a garden party and blissfully dances the night away with a lovely lady, but the police pursue him again. His savior is the eccentric Doktor Bunsen van der Dunkel — “a long-forgotten scientist” who has just perfected a rocket, which he climbs aboard to go home.
When human children do appear in these early books, they have the triumphant last laugh, outwitting the blustering, bloodthirsty adults. “The Three Robbers,” from 1961, ends with the black-cloaked bad guys not only shown the error of their ways by an orphan named Tiffany, but using their ill-gotten treasure to open an orphanage.
Then there’s the extravagantly unconventional “The Beast of Monsiuer Racine” published a decade later in 1971, in which a bizarre-looking creature no one can identify (the head is purple and completely, graphically phallic) steals pears from a retired tax collector’s garden, then becomes his beloved companion and is invited to the capital to be celebrated. The book’s raucous crowd scenes show adults at their most debauched and heedless, with small, wicked details like an umbrella piercing a man’s bald skull and another man holding a bag with a bloody severed foot in it. The beast turns out to be two mischievous children in a sack who just want to teach the adults a lesson.
After he’d left the United States, where instead of becoming revered, like Sendak and William Steig, he had been branded a deviant, unfit to be near children, Ungerer steered away from making picture books. But late in life he found himself rediscovered as a picture book genius, embraced by a new generation of children’s books overseers.
Nearing 80, he returned to picture books, this time forgoing the visual shock-therapy of his earlier work and creating more earnest, almost classical books, including the moody, mystical, painterly “Fog Island.” The one that spoke most directly to his experience growing up under the Nazis was “Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear,” published in 1999.
“Otto” is the tale of a stuffed animal separated from its owner, a German Jewish boy named David, who is taken away during the Holocaust. The bear experiences wartime suffering of his own, at one point taking a bullet, saving the life of an American soldier who is shot while clutching him. But David and Otto are reunited decades later, by chance, in the United States. This time the terror Ungerer evokes is not fantastical or farcical — it’s all in the real world. And yet the overwhelming feeling of the book is still a kind of grand reassurance.
“Evil can be the most fertile ground for good, and good can learn from the cleverness of evil,” Ungerer once said. To the end, he was determined to convert what happened in Europe during his childhood — the mess the adults had made — into something that would give comfort to children, without averting their gaze from the outrageous truth.B:
七乐彩开奖号码【东】【村】，【周】【敏】【放】【学】【后】【就】【鬼】【鬼】【祟】【祟】【的】【钻】【进】【刘】【强】【家】，【刘】【强】【妈】【正】【在】【烧】【火】，【满】【屋】【子】【都】【是】【辛】【辣】【呛】【人】【的】【烟】。 “【你】【来】【干】【啥】？” 【刘】【强】【妈】【对】【周】【家】【的】【几】【个】【女】【孩】【子】【都】【很】【讨】【厌】，【特】【别】【是】【眼】【前】【的】【周】【敏】，【长】【的】【丑】【不】【说】，【性】【格】【也】【差】，【总】【背】【后】【说】【他】【们】【家】【的】【坏】【话】。 【周】【敏】【有】【求】【于】【她】，【自】【然】【是】【一】【副】【伏】【低】【做】【小】【的】【姿】【态】，【从】【书】【包】【里】【摸】【出】【两】【根】【地】【瓜】【塞】【到】【她】【手】【里】。
【周】【月】【玉】【手】【一】【闪】，“【啪】”【的】【一】【下】，【就】【给】【极】【其】【狠】【辣】，【贴】【在】【了】【这】【唯】【一】【一】【个】，【男】【生】【的】【肩】【头】，【看】【似】【在】【笑】，【平】【静】【问】【道】：“【可】【不】【可】【以】【再】【来】【解】【释】【一】【下】？” “【我】……”【王】【表】【一】【个】【怔】【然】，【所】【有】【笑】【容】，【一】【下】【凝】【固】，【似】【乎】【真】【的】【不】【会】【再】【有】，【多】【余】【的】【心】【思】，【而】【是】【就】【这】【样】，【想】【要】【用】【如】【此】【绝】【招】，【蒙】【混】【下】【去】。 【周】【月】【却】【不】【依】【不】【饶】，【非】【但】【不】【会】【再】【有】【了】【半】【点】【的】
【世】【人】【常】【道】，【蓝】【漾】【人】【民】【重】【义】【气】【看】【情】【谊】，【但】【谁】【知】，【这】【也】【是】【因】【人】【而】【异】。【蓝】【漾】【较】【比】【其】【余】【地】【域】，【民】【风】【自】【由】，【崇】【尚】【至】【情】【至】【性】【之】【人】，【可】【这】【也】【不】【代】【表】，【可】【以】【为】【不】【认】【识】【的】【冲】【锋】【陷】【阵】。 【虞】【凉】【收】【回】【目】【光】，【却】【不】【再】【拿】【起】【毛】【笔】，【而】【是】【坐】【在】【椅】【子】【上】，【说】：“【讲】【讲】【虞】【棠】【吧】，【虞】【昙】【的】【那】【位】【姐】【姐】。” 【男】【人】【摸】【了】【摸】【后】【脑】【勺】，【眉】【头】【拧】【的】【能】【夹】【死】【苍】【蝇】：“【我】【对】
【所】【有】【的】【异】【见】【都】【被】【一】【层】【层】【的】【递】【交】【记】【录】【分】【析】，【从】【中】【区】【分】【对】【比】【出】【最】【合】【理】【的】【记】【录】【在】【这】【文】【明】【的】【运】【行】【算】【法】【里】，【社】【会】【的】【运】【行】【越】【来】【越】【和】【谐】，【越】【来】【越】【稳】【定】，【越】【来】【越】【积】【极】【向】【上】。 【如】【果】【没】【有】【意】【外】，【这】【和】【谐】【将】【会】【一】【直】【持】【续】【下】【去】，【但】【意】【外】【总】【是】【在】【不】【经】【意】【之】【间】【发】【生】【的】。 【砰】！【然】【后】【这】【文】【明】【炸】【了】，【没】【有】【发】【生】【内】【乱】，【就】【是】【炸】【了】，【连】【烟】【火】【都】【没】【有】，【就】【是】【单】七乐彩开奖号码“【都】【给】【我】……【住】【手】！” 【脸】【色】【奇】【差】【的】【假】【塞】【西】【莉】【亚】【没】【考】【虑】【多】【久】，【便】【立】【即】【做】【出】【了】【选】【择】：“【所】【有】【人】……【在】【没】【有】【我】【命】【令】【的】【情】【况】【下】，【一】【概】【不】【允】【许】【行】【动】！”【或】【许】【是】【她】【现】【在】【对】“【应】【如】【是】【们】”【拥】【有】【绝】【对】【控】【制】【权】【的】【缘】【故】，【此】【话】【一】【出】，【所】【有】【假】【应】【如】【是】【都】【收】【敛】【住】【了】【魔】【力】，【一】【个】【个】【像】【是】【被】【拆】【了】【发】【条】【的】【机】【械】，【一】【动】【不】【动】【地】【站】【在】【了】【原】【地】。 “【你】【居】【然】
【于】【是】，【众】【人】【看】【向】【颜】【明】【月】【的】【神】【色】【也】【变】【了】，【有】【理】【解】【的】，【也】【有】【鄙】【夷】【不】【屑】【的】。 【而】【这】【些】【人】【的】【眼】【神】，【明】【月】【全】【部】【都】【看】【在】【了】【眼】【里】，【不】【过】【他】【却】【是】【没】【有】【介】【意】，【而】【是】【温】【和】【的】【摇】【了】【摇】【头】，【并】【没】【有】【说】【什】【么】，【这】【些】【人】，【很】【快】【就】【会】【明】【白】【的】，【自】【己】，【根】【本】【就】【没】【有】【站】【出】【来】【的】【必】【要】。 【就】【在】【这】【时】，【他】【感】【觉】【到】【一】【道】【带】【着】【担】【忧】【的】【眼】【神】【落】【在】【了】【亿】【的】【身】【上】，【他】【看】【了】【过】
【他】【们】【不】【可】【能】【就】【这】【么】【看】【着】【这】【两】【人】【战】【斗】，【必】【须】【找】【到】【办】【法】，【让】【两】【个】【人】【之】【间】【的】【恩】【怨】【了】【结】【才】【行】。 【而】【事】【件】【的】【关】【键】【点】，【就】【在】【吉】【安】【娜】【的】【身】【上】【了】。 【按】【艾】【莉】【卡】【的】【描】【述】，【吉】【安】【娜】【并】【不】【是】【为】【了】【杀】【掉】【自】【己】【而】【来】【的】，【她】【更】【多】【的】【是】【想】【要】【证】【明】【自】【己】【的】【能】【力】，【证】【明】【自】【己】【不】【比】【艾】【莉】【卡】【更】【差】。 【但】【这】【说】【起】【来】【简】【单】，【做】【起】【来】【就】【很】【难】【了】。【鬼】【知】【道】【在】【吉】【安】【娜】【的】【眼】