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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)
Three Robbers (The)
by Tomi Ungerer
Age Range: Under_5
The Three Robbers is a strange tale of three fierce little criminals who wear large black capes and tall black hats. Armed with a blunderbuss, a pepper-blower, and an alarmingly huge red axe, the three hold up carriages and steal the passengers' cash and jewellery taking the loot back to their cave high up in the mountains. One night, they hold up a carriage containing only a little orphan named Tiffany, who is on her way to live with a "wicked aunt" and who is only too happy to have been intercepted.
The robbers take her back to the cave and give her a place to sleep. They have trunks and chests full of gold, jewels, money and precious stones everywhere and discovering the treasure next morning when she wakes up Tiffany asks, "What is all this for?" and the robbers are lost for words since they have never considered spending any of their ill-gotten gains. It is Tiffany who comes up with the perfect solution to what they should do with all their wealth.
This is another Tomi Ungerer classic originally published in 1962. The illustrations, with their creepy silhouette of black against a dark blue night sky produce an eerie quality. Colour creeps in on the clothes of the passengers and their gold and precious stones sparkle against the night sky and the pages become even more colourful as the Robbers start to make amends for their deeds. The robbers' cluelessness about their loot shows that their goal is the thrill of the action rather than a desire for wealth, and the gentle moral of their using their money in a positive way through the intervention of a little girl is uplifting.