The Mellops Strike Oil

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by Tomi Ungerer; published  (1958) by Harper Collins;  (2011) by Phaidon Press

How cute is this book?  Mr. Mellops and his darling piglets Casimir, Felix, Isidor and Ferdinand attempt to get rich quick, this time by drilling for oïl.  As always with the Mellops and their kooky misadventures, everything that can possibly go wrong goes utterly wrong.

Mr. Mellops is smart as a whip: he plans it all so meticulously.  He visits the museum where he learns about fossil fuels (stuff I didn’t know myself).  He and the kids build a derrick, set up a mechanical drill and while waiting for that wealth of crude ‘n lovely oil, they camp, they cook, they sing, they have an all around good time.  To top it off, the  ground begins to shake and – hoorah! hoorah! – a fountain of oïl spurts forth!

Success?  Yes!  But wait, the plan unravels!  There is a leak, an oily dog, a passing car, a lit cigar, poof! – a ferocious fuming forest fire!  Oh, my god!  Is this the end for the Mellops?  Thank goodness for the usual happy conclusion —  a healthy helping of Mrs. Mellops’ delicious cream cake!

(Ungerer’s understated humour is truly tops. His illustrations of Mrs. Mellops’ campfire pots and a straight-faced Mr. Mellops in gypsy garb singing a duet with guitar is precious.  You can check out that illustration right here, on Vintage Kids Books My Kid Loves , another truly lovely blog!)


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