Tomi Ungerer's Fog Island is one of The New York Times' Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2013

Tomi Ungerer's brilliant children's book just won a place in the newspaper's prestigious annual list

We always knew Tomi Ungerer's book, Fog Island, was pretty special. This mythical, lyrical, slightly spooky tale of a brother and sister's adventures on the coast of Ireland in the early part of the 20th Century is utterly spellbinding, though in its pictures and narrative style it is about as far removed from the standard kids formats created by the likes of Pixar and Disney as one can imagine.

Thankfully the panel of judges overseeing the New York Times Book Review list of Ten Best Illustrated Children's Books for 2013 share our enthusiasm, picking Fog Island for their chart, alongside Maurice Sendak's My Brother's Book, and Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson.


From Tomi Ungerer's Fog Island
From Tomi Ungerer's Fog Island

The list has been published in the paper since 1952 and is decided upon by a specially appointed panel, which this year included Caldecott medalist Brian Selznick; Elizabeth R. Bird, a children's librarian at the New York Public Library who is the author of the picture book "Giant Dance Party"; and Steve Heller, longtime art director at The Times who is co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author Department and Special Consultant to the President of SVA for New Programs as well as Visuals columnist for The New York Times Book Review.

Tomi Ungerer
Tomi Ungerer

We're especially pleased that this title made the top ten, as some people find Ungerer's wide-ranging career a little hard to take in. The French-born writer and illustrator, who will turn 82 this month, isn't averse to illustrating more adult material, and has produced both anti-war posters and erotic cartoons in the past too.


From Tomi Ungerer's Fog Island
From Tomi Ungerer's Fog Island

There's none of that in Fog Island, of course. Instead, as the NY Times' Leonard S Marcus, put it back in July, "Ungerer's drawings, like blowups of panels from an Expressionist graphic novel, are cartoonishly raw and emotionally penetrating, though they come with a generous dash of silly sight gags, too. Here, with a becoming respect for children's curiosity about the forces that govern the world and their role in that grand scheme, Ungerer takes young readers to a place they have never been before, and he does the same for the picture book."

Read the review here, and see the full list here. And If you and your kids would like to go a place you have never been before, buy the book from the people who made it, here. Meanwhile, if you wan't to pre-order it on iBook you can do that here

You May Also Like



Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
Read more