Moon Man

Moon Man by Tomi Ungerer.
Originally published in Switzerland (Der Mondmann) by Diogenes Verlag AG Zürich,
and in the U.S. by Harper & Row, 1967.
Reprinted by Phaidon, 2009.

I didn't grow up with the books of Tomi Ungerer. He wasn't even on my radar. This makes me sad, although I guess I didn't know what I was missing. I first checked him out after reading about The Three Robbers in 1001 Children's Books To Read Before You Grow Up. That one became a particular favorite in our house, Mr. B included. Of the others we checked out from the library, our second favorite was Moon Man.

I picked up a copy for keeps at Reading Reptile in Kansas City last summer.  Have you or your littles read it?

The man in the moon is bored. Every night, he watches people dancing, and longs to join them. One night, he catches the tail of a comet and crashes to Earth.

"The noise brought hundreds of people from a nearby town. Soldiers sped to defend the earth. Firemen hastened to quench the flaming light. The ice cream man hurried to set up his stand for the spectators."

The officials lock the poor Moon Man in jail, but as the moon shrinks to a quarter, so does the Moon Man, and he is able to squeeze through the bars. He reappears when the moon becomes full, and explores the earth, enjoying nature. He fulfills his dream of dancing when he stumbles upon a costume period. Unfortunately, as the party breaks up, the officials spot him and chase him through the woods. He happens upon an old castle, home of a scientist. The scientist sends him back to the moon on a rocket, finally gaining recognition from the scientific community. The Moon Man is content to be home.

There is a Scholastic video of Moon Man, made in 1981.

But the reason I am posting about the book this evening? Last night, the girls and I watched the recent feature film!

The movie is a joint German-Irish production, released in the U.S. by Tribeca Film. I found it on Amazon Prime Instant last week. [You can also stream it via iTunes, Google Play, or Vudu, or grab it on DVD or Blu-Ray.]

As with most feature films based on picture books, the plot has been greatly fleshed out. Now we see how the Moon Man's disappearance affects the children of Earth, who are unable to sleep. The President is the main adversary, and he and the scientist have a backstory. There are some beautiful moments, such as Moon Man floating on a river, surrounded by flowers, to the sound of Louis Armstrong singing "Moon River." It's a much quieter, stranger animated film than we're used to these days, at least in the U.S. I prefer the picture book, but the movie was definitely worth watching. The girls thought the Moon Man was cute, and they felt sorry for him, but they complained his voice was creepy! It's definitely odd. It reminded me of E.T. - only Moon Man talks a lot more.

Listen for the voice of the narrator: it's Tomi Ungerer himself!

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  1. The book and movie looks beautiful. Always grateful when I'm introduced to one of those quieter, stranger films than the ones we're used to :)

    1. I love weird animation. The girls were open to it. I don't know that it's one we'll revisit much, but they're glad they saw it. :)


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