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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Tomi Ungerer
Age Range: Under_5
This is a gentle satirical fable by Alsace-born illustrator Tomi Ungerer whose classic books are being issuing in new editions by Phaidon.
Moon Man is bored and lonely in his shimmering home in space. He watches the people on Earth dancing and having a good time and wishes that just once; he could join in the fun. So one night, he grabs hold of a passing comet and crash lands on Earth. But his experience on Earth is not at all what he expected! The arrival of this mysterious moon creature causes all the statesmen, scientists and generals to panic and the Moon Man is unceremoniously thrown into prison. Alone in his cell he is miserable and desolate and wonders how he is ever going to get back home. As the lunar phases change, Moon Man realises that he is in his third quarter. All he has to do is wait until he grows thinner and thinner until eventually he is able to squeeze through the bars of his window to escape.
Two weeks later, Moon Man is fully formed once again and he is at last able to enjoy his new-found freedom on Earth, dancing happily for hours at a fancy dress party where all the other guests simply think he has dressed up as the Man in the Moon. But soon the police are on his trail again, and a wild chase ensues. How will he ever get back to the moon now?
Tomi Ungerer’s Moon Man was published in the USA in 1967 at the height of the Space Race. It won the Book Week prize for books for children aged 4-8, and Maurice Sendak ( a longtime friend of the illustrator) described it as: 'Easily one of the best picture books in recent years'. Since then, it has been translated into 12 languages and its creator went on to publish 80 books throughout the following decade.
Ungerer pokes gentle fun at self-important adults who are afraid of anything or anyone who is different or unfamiliar. His ability to capture the absurd showing the over-reaction of the adults to the appearance of Moon Man and injecting such subtle humour make this book a timeless classic which deserves to be available to a whole new audience of children (and adults too).