Friday 28 November 2014

Tomi Ungerer and Flat Stanley

Today is the 83rd birthday of the French illustrator Tomi Ungerer. Over the year's Ungerer's charming illustrations have enlivened many a children's book, among them Jeff Brown's Flat Stanley. This is one of many fine works I only discovered in the course of reading to and with my children, and I loved it. Flat Stanley tells the cheering story of a boy who, having been reduced to a two-dimensional state by an unfortunate mishap, learns to enjoy the opportunities for fun, mischief and even good deeds that his new-found flatness affords. Sliding under doors is the least of it...
 What I didn't know is that this book inspired the Flat Stanley Project, a global initiative in which schoolchildren who have read of Flat Stanley's exploits make a cut-out image of their hero and mail him, along with a letter, a short journal and perhaps a photograph, to schoolchildren in other parts of the world, who then mail him on with more of the same, etc. Thus literacy, communication and international understanding are encouraged - and Flat Stanley, that cheery fellow, gets to travel the world.  Apparently he was on board US Airways flight 1549 when it landed safely in the Hudson river in February 2009. Stanley was, according to Wikipedia, 'carried to safety in the briefcase of his travelling companion'.

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