Author(s): Tomi Ungerer
Monsieur Racine wakes up one day to find his precious pear tree looted of all the award-winning fruit. When he discovers that the culprit is funny-looking beast, his anger gives way to curiosity and two become friends. But the beast is not quite what it seems, eventually it comes apart-literally to show itself to be no beast at all, but the two playful children from next door, covered with skins and rags.
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.