Encapsulated in his “drifting sphere” the Moon Man enviously watches the earth people dance. One day he catches a ride on a comet and crashes into earth. Labeled “an invader” he is thrown in jail where he fades, as the moon does, until he completely disappears and slips through the cell bars.
Outside he reappears and happens upon a costume party where he dances blissfully until the police arrive and a chase ensues. The Moon Man stumbles upon the castle of the long forgotten scientist, Dokter Bunsen van der Dunkel, who is perfecting a spacecraft. When the Moon Man fades enough to fit inside, they tearfully say goodbye and the Moon Man blasts into space.
Having satisfied his curiosity, the Moon Man never returned to earth and remained ever after curled up in his shimmering seat in space.
“Easily one of the best picture books in recent years.”–Maurice Sendak
Why haven’t you heard of Tomi Ungerer – this wildly imaginative artist? Because he was deemed too offensive for America – he created politically charged and sexually explicit art, and so his picture books were banned.
Born in Strasbourg in 1931, Ungerer’s father (who was, amongst other things, a manufacturer of astronomical clocks – devices that, for example, show the position of the moon) died when he was young and the family moved to German occupied Alsace. The war had great influence over Ungerer’s work. There is always fear in his books (note the Moon Man’s imprisonment and persecution) and an exploration of the absurd: “…this is what I found out as a child very, very early. Everything is just absurd. The war is absurd. People are absurd. The grownups are absurd.” (Tomi Ungerer’s Triumphant Return by Robert Sullivan, The New Yorker.) Ironically, and predictably, Ungerer’s message to children was absurdly banned.