Christmas Eve at the Mellops'
Tomi Ungerer ~ Diogenes Verlag AG, 1960 ~ reprinted Phaidon, Oct. 2011
Ahhhh, the Mellops. My son is crazy for them. I'm half nuts over them. And still they languish in out-of-print land until some suit at Phaidon decides they are worthy of reprint. I often call these books the most childish of the Tomi backlist, which they are. Based around an intellectual and wildly eccentric pig family, their eclectic lifestyle and character ticks make them worthy of any Wes Anderson movie. My son learned to walk around with a blade of wheat lazily tucked in the corner of his mouth from these guys. Thinks it makes him a farmer, which it does. (If you read all these books, you'll notice the son Ferdinand always has something in his mouth: wheat, a flower, and in this case, a fir tree branch.)
Their tales are classic. Drama and intrigue and a problem solved and an ending that usually involves some sort of sweet cake. (They are pigs, after all.) And this holiday tale of too many Christmas trees just adds to the magic. And so....
One day in December Mr. Mellop read an article about Christmas tree decorations. He showed the pictures to his sons Casimir, Isidor, Felix, and Ferdinand. One day before Christmas, Isador decided to surprise his family and went into the forest to find a nice tree to decorate. Casimir had the same idea. Ferdinand, too, thought a tree would be a fine surprise. And so did Felix. On Christmas Eve the Mellops' hall was filled with trees and tears.
The crux of the story lies in finding a suitable and needy home for their orphan trees and spreading good cheer where it's needed most. I LOVE THE MELLOPS. Next to the Berenstain Bears, they might be my son's favorite literary family... and thankfully they come without the incessant bad behavior and morality lessons.
Pulling out the boy's Christmas books this week has been a much needed distraction from Happy Potter. See, my four and a half year old saw a picture of Harry Potter with Hedwig at the doctor's office and flipped out, "Mom, Mom! Who's the boy with the snowy white owl!?!" So, five listens NON-STOP to the audio book of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone later, I am happy to have the Mellops tear him away from his CD player, even if just for a few minutes. And so the obsession begins. Better Harry than Luke Skywalker. But I digress. Again.
The Mellops Strike Oil
Seeds and More Seeds
The Three Robbers
Orlando The Brave Vulture
I Am Papa Snap and These Are My Favorite No Such Stories
The Beast of Monsieur Ravine
Book of Various Owls