Among the greatest interpreters of inchoate terror is Tomi Ungerer, the 85-year-old Alsatian illustrator, author, and artist whose work has just been collected and released in fine coffee table form by Phaidon. (Disclosure: Last year Phaidon also published my own children’s book, Can I Eat That?) Though idolized by Sendak and Silverstein, whom he helped get published, Ungerer is likely unknown to most of us. That’s been changing in the last eight years, since Phaidon acquired the English-language rights to his books in 2008, a documentary came out called Far Out Isn’t Far Enough in 2011, and last year New York Drawing Center mounted a well-received exhibition of his work. Nevertheless, no amount of renaissance or belated renown seems like appropriate recompense for a man like Ungerer.
The stories that led to Ungerer’s exile have been so well recounted that they resemble a fairy tale. I first heard about them while shopping at my local children’s bookstore, Bank Street Books. Espying Ungerer’s Adelaide—about the Parisian adventures of a winged kangaroo—under my arm, the perpetually disheveled owner raised his eyebrow conspiratorially. “Do you know about Tomi?” he asked. I answered I didn’t. Thus was related the tale of how Ungerer had fallen from the all-important esteem of librarians at the very height of his productivity in 1970 after publishing a book of erotic drawings called Fornicon. Apparently when confronted by the outraged horde of censorious arbiters of children’s literature at an American Library Association conference, Ungerer answered, “If people didn’t fuck, you wouldn’t have any children, and without children you would be out of work!” That didn’t go over well and shortly afterwards Ungerer fled to Europe and there he stayed for much of the last half-century. (Later I obtained a rare copy of Fornicon. It is pretty outré but also brilliant.)
Includes Q&A interview with the author (follow the link below)
On May 26, Other Press will publish The Travels of Daniel Ascher, a debut novel by Déborah Lévy-Bertherat, translated from the French by Adriana Hunter. Of particular note about its publication: Other Press is marketing the book as a YA crossover, the first time the press has dealt with such a book in its nearly 17-year history.
Scam On The Cam, A Sesame Seade Mystery by Clementine Beauvais, illustrated by Sarah Horne.
This is the third book in the Cambridge-set Sesame Seade series and it appears to be being well-recieved.
“Beauvais has a real talent for capturing naturally funny moments,” said Inis Magazine.
“Sesame Seade is the greatest eleven-year-old detective you could hope to meet. Weird and witty,” according to Marcus Sedgwick.
Sesame certainly has a strong and distinctive voice, judging from the opening of this book, in which she is found acting as cox in a boat race.
Beauvais writes for both the French and English markets, and indeed some of her French YA titles sound as if they are definitely Worth A Look (straight away, if you read French, and hopefully in due course if you need them in translation).
Interesting author. One ACHUKA will start watching more closely.
as reported in The Bookseller:
Andersen Press has acquired a children’s book by this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Patrick Modiano.
The story, Catherine Certitude, is about a young girl called Catherine whose father runs a shipping business with a failed poet named Casterade. Together they enjoy the simple pleasures of everyday life but Catherine has some questions about her life, including about why her ballerina mother left them to go back to New York.
The book is described a love letter to Paris and ballet that will appeal to fans of classic French children’s stories such asAntoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince (Wordsworth Editions). The illustrator is Jean-Jacques Sempé, who also illustrated René Goscinny’s Little Nicholas series (Phaidon Press).
Klaus Flugge, publisher at Andersen Press, acquired the exclusive UK and Commonwealth rights to the title from French publisher Gallimard.
“I’m absolutely delighted to acquire it,” he told The Bookseller. “It’s a book that will appeal to everyone from aged eight to 80.”
The book is Modiano’s only children’s title and was first published in France in 1988. It was reprinted in 1998.
in France, one children’s book is causing a political stir with its depictions of adults in the altogether called ‘Tous à Poil’, which translates at ‘All In The Buff’.
The book has comical drawings of ordinary people – policemen, bakers, and teachers – taking off their clothes with the aim of teaching small children not to be obsessed with perfect bodies.
Victoria is my entry point into London and usually as soon as I’m off the train and through the ticket barrier I’m striding across the forecourt aiming to catch a tube or bus into another part of the city. Consequently, I rarely explore the streets surrounding the station – with the exception of Vauxhall Bridge Road, if I am heading for Tate Britain or Walker Books, and Victoria Street, if I am headed for Westminster. I know it’s not much of a walk to Sloane Square and the Saatchi Gallery, but it’s only one stop on the tube and you’re there in a flash. Which explains why I had not ventured on foot in a westerly direction from the station for many a year. Not since Macmillan Children’s Books were based in Eccleston Place and hosted many a party in the 1990s, when Kate Wilson was at the helm.
So I was unaware of the existence of Belgravia Books, an independent bookshop that opened in September 2011 tucked away in Ebury Street, until I noticed a tweet from Scott Pack sending out a general invitation to a launch of one of his Friday Project titles.
If you’re a regular user of Victoria station, the shop is less than five minutes away. Best way to get to it is to go up the escalator to the upper shopping mall (currently undergoing reconstruction) and walk through to the upper exit into Buckingham Palace Road. Cross over into Eccleston Street (directly opposite), walk up past Eccleston Place then turn right onto Ebury Street. Voila, you will see the blue Belgravia Books shop sign.
Belgravia Books is an adjunct of Gallic Books, a small publishing company founded (by Jane Aitken and Pilar Webb, committed francophiles and previous colleagues at Random House) with the aim of making the very best French writing available to English-speaking readers. The bookshop, while specialising in books in translation, is by no means simply an outlet for Gallic Books’ own publications. They feature prominently in the window displays, but inside the shop itself they sit side by side with the wide range of other stock.
The shop is managed by Andy, a bookseller with over 18 years experience, many of them spent working in various branches of Books Etc, until the Borders/Books Etc. collapse at the end of 2009. On the day of my visit he had just returned from a 3-week break. I told him how many books I was seeing for the first time. “Well, there’s no point being independent if you just stock what Waterstones and Smiths have.” Andy is the only full-time person on the shop floor, but he is supported by three or four other part-time staff, including Emily, who had responded to my initial email enquiry, but was not working on the day of my visit. The Gallic Books office is immediately alongside the shop and Andy tells me that the publishing team are more than ready to help out on the shop floor at busy times.
“Crime never goes away” was something Andy repeated more than once in our conversation. And crime is a particular strength in both the shop and the Gallic Books catalogue . Many of the titles that Gallic Books has translated into English come from the French crime genre. And the shop holds a series of Crime Month talks that are very popular and attract audiences upwards of 40, many of them regulars. Each panel talk is country-themed; there has recently been a Latin-American Month (with two people from the independent Bitter Lemon Press presenting), a Spanish Month (with a professor from UCL) and an Italian Month. Coming up next in this series is a Polish Crime Evening.
The shop is also a favourite launch venue for Scott Pack (seen on the left in the image below), publisher at the Friday Project. Scott says, “Belgravia Books is the perfect place for our book events because it is easy to get to (right by Victoria station), is a nice space (not too big not too small), has a great team (Andy, the manager, always has a great display of the book set up by the time we arrive) and is one of those wonderful curated bookshops that it is impossible to leave without a pile of books you never knew you wanted. I am pretty sure most of the people who come to our launches return to the shop on their own at a later time and buy even more books!”
For a slideshow of images from this particular launch event, click the next image:
The shop has a mailing list that you can subscribe to via the website to keep informed of upcoming events, such as the crime evenings and book launches. Andy explained to me that the current bookshop web design will be changing in the not too distant future, to make it more responsive and mobile friendly. There will also be a different back-end system for book inventory and e-commerce.
Antoine Laurain introduces his novel, The President’s Hat [the first few frames show the author entering the bookshop from the street]
Interesting feature about the pair of French librarians from Strasbourg who slef-published and self-promoted their Oksa Pollock series until its fans campaigned in the press to have it more widely available. Now book rights have been sold in 27 countries. The first book in the sequence is already available in the UK. According to the article, the second volume, Oksa Pollock: The Forest of Lost Souls, follows in February, when the first book will be out in paperback.
French teen Oksa Pollock works her magic in vacuum left by Harry Potter
Global success is moving out of the realms of fantasy for Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf, co-creators of Oksa Pollock
Richard Holmes chooses French portrait photographer Félix Nadar as his ‘Hero’ in The Guardian’s weekly Review feature:
Nadar was the man who introduced me to Paris, and to romanticism. He was the first great French portrait photographer of the 19th century, and a master of visual biography. His Panthéon Nadar of 1854 was originally a collection of nearly 300 literary and artistic caricatures, drawn in an arch, psychologically penetrating style later inherited by the American cartoonist David Levine. By 1870, it had become a fantastic photographic archive, in which every writer, painter, musician, dancer, singer and actor of note in the second empire – from Victor Hugo to Édouard Manet, Hector Berlioz to Sarah Bernhardt – was not merely recorded, but shrewdly observed. His sequence of photographs of his friend Charles Baudelaire, for example, is in effect a life study of the poet…
Despite his rackety life, he lived to be 89. He was in some ways his own best creation, and “Nadar” was both an artistic signature and a shrewd commercial logo. His real name was Gaspard-Félix Tournachon: a tall, exuberant man with a vibrant circle of friends and a beloved wife. Jules Verne called him “an Icarus with replaceable wings”. So this brooding self-portrait, taken in 1854, is a typical Nadar paradox. Never trust a biographer on the subject of himself. I shall always be grateful to him.