Ungerer, Tomi The Three Robbers

ISBN 13: 9780714848778

The Three Robbers

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9780714848778: The Three Robbers

The Three Robbers has been translated into sixteen languages and has sold millions of copies in the 45 years since it was first published. However, it has been unavailable in English for years, depriving English-speaking children around the world of one of the most memorable, entertaining, and beautiful storybooks ever published, in which good triumphs over evil in a delightfully unexpected way.

Tomi Ungerer has been described as 'the direct natural descendent of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen' and, like all the best fairy tales, The Three Robbers is by turns scary, charming, and surprising. The book tells the story of three fierce black-clad robbers who terrorize and plunder the countryside, armed with a blunderbuss, a pepper blower, and a huge red axe. One night, they meet a small girl called Tiffany, who is on her way to live with a wicked aunt. Tiffany is delighted to meet the robbers, and they take her back to their hideout in place of their usual haul of gold and jewels. Tiffany asks what they plan to do with their riches, but the robbers had never thought about spending money before. They soon find themselves embarking on a completely new career: they gather all of the lost, unhappy, and abandoned children that they can find, and then they buy a big castle so they can give all of the children a happy home.

Hailed by the New York Times Book Review as 'one of the most brilliant illustrators at work today,' Tomi Ungerer writes and illustrates unique books that have been the mainstay of children s libraries around the world for almost five decades. This book was first published in 1962, the same year as Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. After the publication of these two groundbreaking titles, both of which are far removed from the cute, safe, nursery world of cuddly toys and fluffy bunnies, storybooks for children would never be the same again. In 1990, Sendak wrote: ''Some adults look at [Ungerer's] work, then rush to drag out the bromide that explains how easy it is to make a picture book: 'Just a handful of sentences and a lot of blazing pictures.' These critics fail to see that a successful picture book is a visual poem.'' In only 300 words and 20 unforgettable pictures, Ungerer creates an entertaining, wry modern morality tale in which good overcomes evil in the end.

Ungerer's little blonde orphan Tiffany is far from helpless -- she is not afraid of the robbers and instead reforms them, converting their evil into goodness. By the end of the story, the robbers are using their ill-gotten gains to create a kinder, better world for other unhappy children who have been neglected by a thoughtless society. At the time of the book's first publication, Tomi Ungerer summed up the moral of the story as, 'Whatever the color of money, it is never too late to make good use of it,' an intriguingly ambivalent statement that serves as a good indication of the playful, unconventional, sometimes provocative and always entertaining nature of this author.

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About 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 that while 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 Kastner 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 Legion d Honneur.

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