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Moon Man

Moon Man

5.0 3
by Tomi Ungerer

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Review of the first American edition of Moon Man:
"The bright, galloping illustrations are as effective as any Tomi Ungerer has done. This has some of the sting of Dr Strangelove – but tenderized, the contemporary charisma of Where the Wild Things Are: it's great! Exceptionally highly recommended."
Kirkus Reviews, 1967

In this gently


Review of the first American edition of Moon Man:
"The bright, galloping illustrations are as effective as any Tomi Ungerer has done. This has some of the sting of Dr Strangelove – but tenderized, the contemporary charisma of Where the Wild Things Are: it's great! Exceptionally highly recommended."
Kirkus Reviews, 1967

In this gently satiric fable, Ungerer pokes fun at self-important adults who are afraid of anything or anyone unfamiliar, and reminds us that there is indeed no place like home. On its first publication in the US in 1967, at the height of the Space Race, Moon Man won the Book Week prize for books for children aged 4–8, and Maurice Sendak described it in Book Week as 'Easily one of the bet picture books in recent years' Since then, it has been translated into 12 languages. Moon Man will be the next classic Ungerer tale to be turned into a full-length feature film, following on from the success of the award-winning The Three Robbers, which was shown in French and German cinemas in 2007 and is due to be launched on DVD in the English-speaking world in Fall 2008.

Bored and lonely in his shimmering home in space, the Moon Man watches the people on Earth dancing and having a good time. Just once, he  thinks, he would like to join in the fun. So one night, he holds on to a passing comet and crash lands on Earth. But the unexpected arrival of this mysterious visitor causes statesmen, scientists and generals to panic, and the Moon Man is thrown into jail.

Alone in his cell, the Moon Man uses his special powers to slip through the hands of the law: it turns out that in accordance with the lunar phases, the Moon Man waxes and wanes.His left side starts to disappear – the Moon Man is his third quarter – and as the moon grows thinner and thinner, so does the Moon Man. Finally, he is able to squeeze through the bars of his window and escape. Two weeks later, and once again fully formed, he enjoys his new-found freedom on Earth, and dances happily for hours at a party where all the other guests are wearing elaborate costumes and simply think he has dressed up as the Man in the Moon. But the police are on his trail, and a wild chase ensues.

Fleeing through a forest, Moon Man finds a remote castle, where he is welcomed by an ancient, long-forgotten scientist named Doktor Bunsen van der Dunkel, who has been working on a space ship for centuries, with the aim of flying to the moon. Now too old and fat to fit into the completed rocket himself, Doktor van der Dunkel asks Moon Man to be the first passenger. Knowing that he would never be able to live on Earth in peace, Moon Man returns home to his planet, happy to stay there forever now that his curiosity has been sated. Back on Earth, Doktor van der Dunkel finally gets the recognition he deserves for his scientific breakthrough.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Maurice Sendak, a friend of Ungerer's, thought him the most original children's book writer of his time." —Sunday Telegraph

"So strong and graphically interesting... It's art – illustration at the highest level." —The Times

"[A] style marked by great originality of illustrative technique, and a use of language that refused to patronise his young readers." —Dazed & Confused

"Watch the children, the subversive is back." —New York Times

"His ability to capture the absurd […] and inject [...] subtle humour make this book a timeless classic." —Outside In

"The new editions look fresh and inviting, with creamy backdrop pages, crisp colors, and almost tangible textures." —School Library Journal

"Ungerer's artwork is distinguished by bright colors and his own distinctive style, and his stories are a beguiling mix of humour, wisdom and worthwhile messages." —Buffalo News

"A strange and hilarious fairy-tale adventure that will make nighttime kids guffaw out loud." —UrbanFamily

"[A] sweet, subversive, and lyrical tale." —Brain Pickings

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Ungerer's (Crictor; Moon Man) first children's book in 25 years, a delightfully witty and lighthearted look at race relations, a cat couple is startled to discover that their newborn is a dog. (This "genetic mishap" is traced to a great-grandmother's secret marriage to a pug.) The doting parents bring up squat, jowly, wrinkly-faced Flix to climb trees and eat fried mice and pickled canaries. Under the tutelage of his basset hound godfather, the pup also learns pride in his canine heritage and masters the dog language. Flix's combined talents win him the respect of both communities, the love of a French exchange-student poodle and eventually a career in politics, in which he campaigns to end cat-dog segregation. Ungerer celebrates the versatility and perspective Flix gains from his mixed ancestry while still acknowledging the hardship of not fitting in. His lively illustrations, which feature highly expressive and individualized faces, are more supple and playful than in earlier books. The accomplished artwork brims with funny touches such as a rat-crossing sign in Cattown (speed up!) and a monument to Laika (the first dog to orbit in space) in Dogtown; more pointed details include the no-dogs-allowed sign in a posh Cattown restaurant. Ungerer's return to the field will be welcomed by all who discover this charming addition to his oeuvre, but will be especially appreciated by children growing up in more than one cultural tradition. Ages 6-10. (May) FYI: Tomi Ungerer's The Three Robbers, Moon Man and No Kiss for Mother are being reissued in paperback, as well as Heidi (by Johanna Spyri) in a hardcover edition. (Roberts Rinehart/TomCo, $6.95 40p ages 4-8 ISBN 1-57098-206-6; $6.95 40p ages 4-8 ISBN -207-4; $5.95 40p ages 6-10 ISBN -208-2; $19.95 312p all ages ISBN -162-0; May)

Product Details

Phaidon Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 12.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Born in 1931 in Strasbourg, in the Alsace region of France, Tomi Ungerer started drawing as a small boy. Drawing caricatures was a form of resistance for him whilst growing up under the Nazi occupation. Ungerer was not a true student - described on his school-leaving certificate as a ‘depraved and rebellious character' - and instead of going to university, he hitchhiked around Europe, getting as far as Lapland. Inspired by his heroes Saul Steinberg, James Thurber, and Charles Addams, Ungerer landed in New York in 1956 with only $60 in his pockets and a suitcase full of drawings. He quickly found success as an illustrator and caricaturist, becoming a star almost overnight. He published his first book for children, The Mellops Go Flying, in 1957, and went on to publish eighty books over the next ten years, covering all aspects of his work.

Fluent in French, German, and English, Ungerer regards himself as Alsatian first and European second, and has described New York City, where he lived and worked for 15 years, as the love of his life. However, his firmly held and clearly expressed beliefs and opinions – against racism, McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, against hypocrisy in any form – made life in the U.S. increasingly difficult. He left the U.S. in 1971 on a sudden impulse, when he and his second wife Yvonne moved to a farm in Nova Scotia, where they raised sheep, pigs, and goats for a number of years, before moving to Ireland to raise their family. Tomi Ungerer now divides his time between his farm in Ireland, near the ocean that he loves, and Strasbourg, the city of his birth, where a museum dedicated to his work opened in late 2007.

Tomi Ungerer has said thatwhile many people can see only good and evil, he is particularly interested in the no-man's land between the two, as this is the most interesting place to him, where lessons may be learned. In the 26 children's books due to be published by Phaidon, Ungerer covers themes such as prejudice, poverty, and the Holocaust, but his fantastic repertoire also includes such charming animals as Adelaide, the flying kangaroo, and Orlando, the courageous vulture. Ungerer aims to inspire children's curiosity and imagination with his books, but he also wants to let them know that it's okay to have problems, because you can always find the courage to fight them. Among the many aphorisms and mottoes he coins and collects, his favorite is “Don't hope, cope!” When it comes to his own life and work, Ungerer's three key principles are enthusiasm, discipline, and pragmatism. He is a firm believer in the importance of a good vocabulary, good manners, and the acquisition of practical skills such as cooking, first aid, and knot-tying, of creativity of any kind, because “we are what we make.”

Ungerer is, above all, an internationally renowned artist and a superlative storyteller, Ungerer has received numerous awards for his work, including the Erich Kästner Prize for literature in 2003, the Hans Christian Andersen Award for illustration in 1998, and the Jakob Burckhardt Prize of the Goethe-Stiftung, Basel, in 1983. In 1992, the American Bibliographic Institute named him one of 500 ‘World Leaders of Influence,' and in the same year, he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, for his contribution to cultural exchange and communication between France and Germany. The Council of Europe in Strasbourg named him an ambassador for children and education in 2000, and in 2002 Jack Lang, then minister of French education, named him an Officier de la Légion d'Honneur.

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Moon Man 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Gardenseed More than 1 year ago
I have read this book to school classes and to groups of children whose ages ranged from pre-school to as old as twelve years and it never failed to hold their attention. They love Moon Man and love the book. The pictures are striking. I would give this to children aged 5-8.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
My son loved this book as young boy! We would often read it and then look into the night sky to see if the Moon Man could slip through the bars of his jail cell. Ten years later we are buying it for a new addition to the family as his first book!