Monday, November 9, 2009

Zeralda's Ogre

Zeralda's Ogre
Tomi Ungerer ~ Harper & Row, 1967


OK. I've coveted this book for a long time. Readers continually mention it, and I've always salivated for it. But alas, the online copies were too rich for my blood. So, the other day, a friend of mind mentioned she's looking for a copy of The Hat and I remembered seeing one in a used book shop... so just by chance I happened to pass the shop and stop by to see if it was still there... and what (low and behold!) do I see sitting on the shelf beside it? A first edition of ZO priced at an amazing $4.95? OK, these are the moments I live for in this hobby. Finding something I've been wanting for a long time in great condition and priced to move. And yes, I am in love. And thankfully, despite the main character's baby-eating origins, the boy is head over heels as well. IT IS SOOOO GOOD! (The book, not that babies, that is.)

Once upon a time there lived a lonely ogre. Like most ogres he had sharp teeth, a bristling beard, a big nose, a big knife, a bad temper, and a huge appetite. Of all things, he liked little children for breakfast the best. Everyday the ogre came to town, snatching up children. Terrified parents dug secret hideaways for their infants. They stuffed their little boys and girls into trunks and barrels in shadowy cellars, and in underground vaults. Schools were empty and teachers were out of work.

So yeah, when all the children go into hiding, the ogre gets mighty hungry... that is until a wee little unknowing girl comes out of the woodwork and shows the horrible ogre there is more to the culinary arts than devouring infant flesh. Ogre gives up eating children. Girl and ogre fall in love and procreate. The end. Simply a genius story!

Really, I have a mild obsession and love for children's books with a matte finish, both new and old. Something about the way the book feels to the touch. How it doesn't reflect. How the paper soaks in the ink. And the colors, oh the colors. When I go to my son's shelf, I always find myself going to the matte finishes first. Just a fetish I guess, but one I don't see ending anytime, uh, EVER! And if Mr. Tomi can have them, why can't I!?!

(Love the subtle nuances in the drawings. Take a close look at the top scan of the family portrait from the last page of the book... looks like their happily ever after might have some hereditary issues.)

Also by:
The Hat
The Mellops Strike Oil
Crictor
Seeds and More Seeds
The Three Robbers
Moon Man
Orlando The Brave Vulture
Christmas Eve at the Mellops'
I Am Papa Snap and These Are My Favorite No Such Stories
The Beast of Monsieur Racine
Allumette
Emile
Book of Various Owls
Rufus
Adelaide

8 comments:

KT said...

Hurrah! My all-time favourite kids' book! Thanks for featuring it here.

Amanda said...

I've never seen that book. Now I need to track that one down, too.

Antmusic said...

I found this book about two months ago, and I remember reading this one to my son and trying very hard to make him not notice the knife on the last page. haha.

Scribbler said...

oh man, my son is all about the knife on the last page.... He sits all wide eyed and then laughs and laughs and goes.... EWWWWWWWW!

katie@weheartbooks.com said...

I'm with you on the matt pages fetish! Can utterly relate. Sadly Tomi Ungerer seem hard to find in Aus...

Magda said...

Hi--I'm working on a translation of a French cookery book that quotes from "Zeralda's Ogre," and I was wondering if someone could provide me with the original English for menu items 6 and 7 in the illustrated menu?? I believe menu item 4 is "Pompano Sarah Bernhardt" in English, too. . . Thank you in advance!

Scribbler said...

send me an e-mail with your e-mail and I'll scan the page for you.

bye!

webe(at)soon(dot)com

mitsue said...

I loved this book as a child, had my father hunt it down for me when i was a teenage and have since gone through three more copies as an adult and preschool teacher. The children love it, we sit and discuss each page, the pictures, the story itself and I assure them that no, we do not eat children anymore. They're all too old to eat any how.

I have had amazing luck finding some of the more hard to find books by searching through ebay and abebooks.com.

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