Tomi Ungerer ~ Harper, 1961
Have you guys seen the brilliant Peter & the Wolf that won the Academy Award for best short film a few years back? My son and I watched it for the first time last night, and I really can't say enough good stuff about it. The images are still floating around in my head, and my son woke up talking about it this morning. I have a feeling it will be to him what The Red Balloon was to me when I was young. But, of course, I'm rambling... that's not really why I'm here. I'm here to, once again, give Ungerer the love. Books float to the surface around this house and stay there for a while before getting lost in the back of the shelf, and Rufus here is getting some much deserved time in the sun. Or, rather, not in the sun... seeing as...
Rufus was a bat. During the day he hung from the ceiling of his cave and slept. At night he left his cave and went hunting. One night he saw an outdoor theater where a technicolor movie was being shown. Rufus had never seen bright colors before--only the gray and black of the night world. He thought it would be nice to see the day with all its beautiful colors. So instead of going to sleep when morning came, he stayed awake. The sun came up, and Rufus watched with enthusiasm.
Rufus the bat sees the world for the first time in color and is mesmerized. Disenchanted with his dark appearance, he scores some paints and decides to spruce up his look.
He painted his ears red, his hooks blue, his feet violet, and drew a big green star on his stomach.Of course, simple townsfolk have never seen a psychedelic bat before and they blast him out of the sky. Mistaken for a rare butterfly, Rufus is adopted by a collector who nurses him back to health... But ultimately, the night is where Rufus belongs. A common theme in Tomi's books of animals and people making good, a heartfelt simpatico between man and nature. Always a treat.
The illustrations here have a deep muted, washed feeling, a little different from his line drawings and sharp paintings. And I love the way Tomi draws words. Someday I'm gonna start a blog with scans of books with hand drawn title pages. Something about seeing the title of the book, the name of the publisher and the copyright date drawn out by the artist makes me giddy. (Oh yeah, Tomi just redesigned his Website by the way. Check it out.)
Seeds and More Seeds
The Three Robbers
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