R.I.P. Tomi Ungerer and a Letter from Leda

We were sorry to hear about the death of Tomi Ungerer, whose is the name I hear mentioned most frequently when illustrators talk about their heroes. The New York Times has a sympathetic and informative obit of the artist but takes one cheap shot up with which Leda Schubert, dear friend of the Horn Book, will not put. Please read her letter to the Times below:


To the editor of the NYT:

The Times’s praise of the wonderful and important books of Tomi Ungerer is, if anything, understated (2/12/2019). Those of us in the children's literature field have long appreciated his unique voice. But this sentence in the obituary for Mr. Ungerer brought me up short: "The Mellops books and others, with their quirky stories and simple but idiosyncratic drawings, stood out in the often uninspiring world of children’s books."

1957, the year the first Mellops book was published, also saw the publication of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat, Edward Gorey's The Doubtful Guest, Dare Wright's The Lonely Doll, Tove Jansson's Moominland Midwinter, Robert McCloskey’s Time of Wonder, and the first of the Else Minarik/Maurice Sendak Little Bear series, among many others. Most children’s book fans would consider them classics, and each is still in print after more than sixty years. Children’s books continue to be ground-breaking and, indeed, inspiring, thanks to so many extraordinary creators and their publishers.

Leda Schubert

Plainfield, VT
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

Julie Larios

Bravo, Leda - and thanks, Roger for publishing her letter to the Times.

Posted : Feb 13, 2019 08:13


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more