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The children’s author and eroticist was vilified in the US and received death threats from French fringe groups before moving to Cork and gaining acceptance.
Tomi Ungerer moved to New York from Strasbourg, France, in 1956 and became an almost immediate success. His first children’s book, “The Mellops Go Flying,” about a family of daring French pigs, was published to glowing reviews in 1957.
He became a notable success in the United States, Europe and Japan as the author-artist of refreshingly irreverent children’s books, an advertising and magazine illustrator and a mordantly effective social satirist and political cartoonist. His coruscating antiwar posters during the Vietnam era gained him a worldwide audience. Willy Brandt enlisted Ungerer’s talents during a successful bid for the office of chancellor of West Germany in 1969.
But after Mr. Ungerer left New York, and America, for good in 1970, his reputation seemed to depart with him. While his stature increased in Europe and Japan, his books began to fall out of print in the United States, to the point that Phaidon Press, the London art-book publisher, could describe him fairly accurately as “the most famous children’s book author you have never heard of.”
But Phaidon is hoping to change that. It has acquired the rights to almost all of his work and this fall will start to republish his children’s books in the United States and Britain. In 2007, a museum dedicated wholly to his work was opened in Strasbourg, where his family has lived for centuries.