From the late 1950's to around 1970 when his self-published collections of erotica kind of pushed his editors over the edge, Tomi Ungerer was an edgy, awesome, dominant influence in the children's book world. Even if the US market couldn't handle much more frank darkness than Ungerers' friends Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein, it turns out Ungerer's been doing just fine, thanks.
His books have been doing fine in other languages, and though many Ungerer classics have been out of print in English for years, the art publisher [?] Phaidon is reissuing around 20 titles. The first comes back in February 2009, The Three Robbers, a 1962 tale of highwaymen and unwanted children with artwork that looks like a straight-line inspiration for Sesame Street's "Jazzy Spies" animations several years later. Stay tuned.
In The 2006 DT Bizarre Book Contest, Marya reviewed Ungerer's, No Kiss For Mother. If you have a favorite Tomi Ungerer book--I didn't realize he did Crictor the boa constrictor, which I loved as a kid--give it a shoutout in the comments.
Goodnight Blunderbuss: NYT Book Review of The Three Robbers [nytimes]
Pre-order The Three Robbers at Amazon [amazon]
from July 2008: Watch The Children, The Subversive Is Back [nyt]