Thursday, March 25, 2010


Tomi Ungerer ~ Harper, 1959

Please tolerate my obsession a wee bit further and join me in celebrating another Ungerer book with a one-word title--of an animal's name--who invariably saves the day--that also includes Crictor, Adelaide, Rufus and Orlando. I'm not sure if he meant them all to be a series, but they certainly fit into the same theme.

Captain Samofar, a famous deep-sea diver, was walking on the bottom of the ocean one day. Suddenly a ferocious looking shark appeared. The shark attacked Captain Samofar. But a kind octopus named Emile saved him by throwing a rock into the fish's open mouth. Then Emile carried the diver to the surface. When Captain Samofar revived he shook hands gratefully with his rescuer. He invited the octopus to come and live with him.Very similar to the other single-named-saviors in that they're all helpful and taken in by some understanding human being. In this story, Emile builds a life on land, becoming accepted and popular... rescuing drowning children, thwarting swarthy smugglers. Ultimately, however, it is in the deep blue sea that he belongs.

Though I love Tomi's lush color work, there is something about his books with the simple line drawings (The Mellops) that totally win me over. They're so childlike in their effort and so accessible that even when the moment might seem frightening or strange, you are invited in by a heart full of innocence. Two glub glubs up.

Also by:
The Hat
Zarelda's Ogre
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
The Mellops Strike Oil
Book of Various Owls


Best Homeschool Buys said...

I'm back! I keep finding your blog when I'm looking for vintage children's books. Just joined your facebook fan page. I haven't had the pleasure of reading Emile, but it looks like another winner of classic proportions.
Julie from Best Homeschool Buys :)

Antmusic said...

That is great! More Ungerer that I've never seen. Keep it up!

Ali said...

We picked up Crictor at the library once and fell in love. I'm certain I would fall prey to many of these titles if I ever came across them. Not so easy to find...

Anonymous said...

This looks so cute, I love the illustration of the diver and the shark!

I've just started following your blog and I adore it. I'm an illustration student and hopefully a children's illustrator someday, and I really have a passion for kid's books.

Keep up the great posts!!

daysease said...

OOH, looks like a great one!! so many great books!!

TheAuthor said...

Fantastic, a list of Ungerer to get my teeth in to, thanks
Zerelda's Ogre is my favourite next to The Beast of Monsieur Racine, or is it Crictor? So many to choose from

ChristyJan said...

I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of this book for 50 cents today!
Thanks for your recommendation ~ this was one Ungerer book I didn't have in my collection.

ClaudiaSorensen said...

I'm 64 years old and this book was one of my favorites when I was a child. I am currently making a paper mache octopus and that got me thinking about this book. I'm so surprised I found it.

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