Blog: Book Covers from the Archives

With over 140 books to his name, translated into countless languages, it’s hard to keep track of all the different editions of Tomi’s books that exist in the world! We’ve collected a few favourites to share, from first editions and out of print gems to bestselling books in unusual languages. Take a look through the cover art here, and let us know if you have a favourite edition of one of Tomi’s books in the comments below!

Poster, 1994

Tomi Ungerer book covers

You may recognise this elephant from Tomi’s “Expect the Unexpected” days, when a menagerie of his illustrated animals appeared in print advertisements for The New York Times. As Tomi said himself in a 2010 interview with Phaidon, he likes to include “an elepha-an element of practical joke” in his work. Watch the full interview (“Tomi Ungerer on writing for children”), here. And learn more about Tomi’s poster art in our posters section.

Compromises, 1970

Compromises was originally published by Farrar, Straus And Giroux in 1970, and it contains selections from five years worth of Tomi’s drawings. Tomi’s work has led him down paths of experimentation in mediums as diverse as architecture and collage, but he is still an inexhaustibly prolific draughtsman. See more of Tomi’s drawings here.

The Mellops Go Diving for Treasure and end up on the other side of the world

Tomi’s work has been translated into countless languages, and it’s interesting to look at the difference in cover designs from his publishers round the world. Here is the first edition cover of The Mellops Go Diving for Treasure, published in New York by Harper & Brothers in 1957.

And here is a modern edition of the same book in Korean!

I Am Papa Snap…and these are my many language editions

I Am Papa Snap and These Are My Favourite No Such Stories is one of our favourite children’s books by Tomi, and one of his favourites too. The book was first published in 1971 in the U.S. by Harper & Brothers. 

A first edition via Cultural Heritage Books

Papa Snap‘s tongue-twisting title was translated into French as Les Histoires farfelues de Papaski and into German as Papa Schnapp und seine noch-nie-dagewesenen Geschichten. (If reading translated book titles brings you joy, you will have lots of fun with our selected Bibliography). 

This modern German edition is available from Diogenes Verlag

These days the French edition of Papa Snap is published by L’ecole des loisirs under the much less time-consuming name Papaski

Hand lettered covers

Tomi has hand-lettered the cover fonts for many of his books, including this one for Orlando from 1966.

And this cover design for Rufus.

The advent of the digital age has not impacted Tomi’s hand drawn style, and he still immensely enjoys creating his own title typography for his books. For one of his most recent children’s picture books, Fog Island, published in 2013, Tomi hand designed the cover font using pencil and ink on paper.

Phaidon’s 2016 collection Tomi Ungerer: A Treasury of 8 Books has lots of behind the scenes information and process pages from all of the books in the collection, including insights into Tomi’s hand-lettering process for Fog Island

Let us know about your favourite Tomi Ungerer cover art and editions in the comments below!

You can buy all of Tomi’s books currently in print from Amazon, or find a supplier near you on our list of great independent bookshops worldwide.

Words by Sophie Meehan. 

2 Responses to “Blog: Book Covers from the Archives”

  1. Eva says:

    Hi Dear Mr. Tomi

    I just wanted to let you know my admiration for the magnificent job you have done through the years with the publication of your books, especially for children. I am now starting to write my own and the inspiration I found on yours keeps me going further. Thank you

  2. Team Tomi says:

    Hi Eva, this website is moderated by Tomi’s online team, but thank you for commenting and we’re so glad that his books have inspired you! Sophie

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