Tomi Ungerer

2011 Lifetime Achievement Award (Contemporary): Tomi Ungerer

Tomi Ungerer was born in 1931, in the Alsace region of France, and grew up under Nazi rule during WWII. Self-trained as an artist, he moved to New York City in 1956 and worked as an editorial and advertising illustrator. One year later, he made his first mark in children’s literature with The Mellops Go Flying, published by Harper & Row. Other distinctive children’s books followed, including Moon Man, The Three Robbers, Crictor, The Beast of Monsieur Racine, and Otto. He continues to create new children’s books to this day, with Making Friends and Zlots soon to be published by Phaidon.

In the early 1970s, Tomi Ungerer moved to Nova Scotia. Five years later he moved to Ireland, where he and his family have lived ever since. He writes in French, English, and German, and his talent and creativity are internationally acclaimed. Among the many prizes he has received are the Hans Christian Anderson Award and the Erich Kästner Literary Prize. In 2003, he was named Ambassador for Childhood and Education by the European Council, and twice he has been awarded the Legion d’Honneur, once as an Officier, and once as a Commandeur des Arts et Lettres.

Between his children’s books and adult books, Tomi Ungerer has published over 100 titles. He’s a political commentator, memoirist, and deft observer of everyday life. As an artist, he works in a variety of media. He has created sculptures and designed buildings and monuments, and many museums and galleries have shown and collected his work. The Children’s Literature Research Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia holds manuscripts and illustrations from his early books, and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art recently mounted “Tomi Ungerer: Chronicler of the Absurd.” He is also the only living artist to have a public museum in France dedicated to him and to his work.