I’m not sure it was a good idea to bind up these eight folio picture books in so hefty a volume as this. There have been precedents such as the varying compendia of Caldecott’s toybooks or the horrid bumper book of Beatrix Potter’s little stories, but those could be read on your lap. This hefty tome calls for a stout table to rest it on.
Not but what the stories themselves are welcome: The Three Robbers, Zeralda’s Ogre, Moon Man, Fog Island, The Hat, Emile, Flix, and Otto, and Phaidon Press have topped and tailed them with an introduction by Tomi and 24 pages at the end where he discusses with his Phaidon editor how each of the eight books came about, with some illustrative sketches to boot. There are some gems of information jumbled in here such as his developing command of colour separation and the drift of his authorial motives from uninhibited fun to the social messaging of the late books like Flix and Otto.
As I implied in my BfK article on Tomi in 2011, on his eightieth birthday, the ‘fun’ is, if one may say, fundamental and there are many examples among his 140-book oeuvre which could do with reviving alongside these, in some cases, frequently revived picture books. Phaidon Press who have been so hospitable to his work in recent years might perhaps take us on to some of the lesser-known books – but not, please, so weightily.