A Small Gem
By Tomi Ungerer
How’s this for a rave review from one well known picture book icon….. to one less well known? “Tomi Ungerer has created another masterpiece.” So says Eric Carle of Tomi’s “Fog Island.”
The Hans Christian Andersen award was given to him in 1998 for his “lasting contribution” to the art of children’s books.
And in 2013, Tomi’s “Fog Island” was named to impressive critical lists such as “New York Times Best Illustrated Picture Books” for 2013, “Top Ten Children’s Books 2013”and “Publishers Weekly”Best Children’s Books of 2013.”
Tomi’s “Fog Island” is a small gem. And, in the words of critic Leonard Marcus, he critiques it quite succinctly:
“Here with a becoming respect
for children’s curiosity about the
forces that govern the world, and
their roles in that grand scheme,
Ungerer takes young readers to a
place they have not been before
and he does the same for picture
Shrouded in myth and mystery that young readers will find appealing, as they usually revel in the quirky and queer, Tomi has set the scene on the coast of Ireland. He, himself, took up residence there, and from his own impressions of the stark allure of its rocky coast, the seeds of “Fog Island” were planted. What follows is the tale of the man that generates the mist. Is he good or evil? Gossip says the latter, but the two siblings’ experience may prove the former to be true!
This young boy and girl’s first hand encounter may tell the tale.
Tomi’s ability to conjure atmosphere with art is truly a gift. His use of varying shades of blue, gray and black here, lend a misty miasma of foreboding that only the encounter and experience with The Fog Man can dispel. Or can it? For even then, so much is left to the imagination of the reader; as it should be!
Please take a trip to “Fog Island” with your young reader. And while there, take a peek at some of Tomi’s other books such as “Zeralda’s Ogre”, “The Beast of Monsieur Racine” and the more well-known lovable boa named “Crictor” that can spell out letters with each cool constriction of his body.
There are so many others that are worth a read from this curious, canny and very cunning artist of the picture book.
The road to a child’s inner heart is sometimes hard to fathom or even find, but I think Tomi, as evidenced in his picture books, never forgot the way.