The Snuggery Celebrates “National Siblings Day” One Day Late with Tomi Ungerer’s “Fog Island.”
By Tomi Ungerer
I missed National Siblings Day by one day.
So, here is my salute to my two brothers, Walt and Val, and also as I do this, the selection of this picture book is a homage to recently passed picture book author extraordinaire, Tomi Ungerer.
Siblings are fellow adventurers on the journey of life. You experience it together, but sometimes from different perspectives. But, the grand experience of family life is what binds you together, and gives you the ability to navigate life’s up and down.
Fog Island’s two siblings have a grand and mysterious adventure which leaves many questions that they must puzzle over and seemingly go with their instincts…much like my brothers and I did, as we navigated life in a divorced family in the 50’s.
It was mysterious, scary and uncharted territory for kids then…much like “Fog Island.”
How’s this for a rave review from one well-known picture book icon to one another? “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, please also consider taking a peek at some of Tomi’s other books such as “Zeralda’s Ogre”, “The Beast of Monsieur Racine”, the realistic and uncompromising, but ultimately heartening, “Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear,” plus the more well-known and 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/author 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.