Emile by Tomi Ungerer


Emile by Tomi Ungerer

In this classic picture book, first published in 1960, Tomi Ungerer tells the story of an eight-legged hero. Emile has twice as much courage and four times as many legs as most people - except, of course, other octopuses. Ungerer's charming illustrations make this unlikeliest of heroes quite irresistible - everyone will wish they had a friend like Emile. When deep-sea diver Captain Samovar is attacked by a shark, Emile comes to his aid . Grateful to his rescuer, the Captain invites him to stay at his home, where Emile sleeps in a bath tub full of salt water. It turns out that as well as being brave, Emile is also a gifted musician: able to play three instruments simultaneously, he is the life and soul of every party. But Emile soon misses the ocean, and takes a job as a lifeguard. He is a great success at the beach: he teaches children to swim, saves people who have swum out too far and keeps everyone entertained with his amazing ability to form different shapes with his many limbs - Emile can turn himself into a chair, a bird, even a unicorn. One day, Emile and the Captain, who works on a police launch, encounter a suspicious-looking boat on the ocean. They have chanced upon a group of smugglers, and Emile once again saves the day by capturing the bandits. To celebrate his heroism, the police name their next boat Emile, after their friend the brave and helpful octopus. After all the excitement, Emile decides to return to his quiet life in the sea, where Captain Samovar, dressed up in his diving suit, often comes to join him for a game of chess, and a chance to talk about their old adventures. And in case you were wondering: yes, octopuses is the correct plural form of octopus, not octopi. In fact, based on the word's linguistic roots (it's a Latinized form of the Greek word oktopous) the 'correct' plural should really be octopodes - but that would be taking things too far.

About the Author

Born in Strasbourg, in the Alsace region of France, in 1931, Tomi Ungerer started drawing as a small boy. Growing up in Nazi-occupied Strasbourg, drawing caricatures was for him a form of resistance. Described on his school-leaving certificate as a 'depraved and rebellious character', he hitch-hiked around Europe, getting as far as Lapland, rather than going to university. Inspired by his heroes Saul Steinberg, James Thurber and Charles Addams, Ungerer landed in New York in 1956, with only $60 dollars in his pocket 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 80 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 US increasingly difficult, and for a while, his books were banned from any libraries receiving public funding. He left the US 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.

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Book Info


32 pages


Tomi Ungerer
More books by Tomi Ungerer


Publication date

30th June 2010



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