The Three Robbers


The Three Robbers

by Tomi Ungerer

Age: 3+

Interests: crime, robbers, treasure, orphans, morality, helping others

Tomico/Roberts Rinehart: 1962

36 pp.

Also by this author/illustrator: The Mellops series, Moon Man, Crictor, Zeralda’s Ogre, The Hat

Three robbers terrorize the countryside, skulking about and robbing travellers. One evening they stop a carriage whose only passenger is an orphan named Tiffany. She is on her way to live with a wicked aunt, and is thrilled to meet the robbers. They take her home. When she sees their hoarded treasure she asks what it’s for, a question they’d never considered. The robbers are moved to spend their ill-gotten loot on a home for orphans, and are instantly reformed.

An odd little morality tale, this book is particularly memorable for its arresting illustrations. The mysterious robbers stalking their victims with that great red axe is an image that stays with you! (People flee in terror, but in truth the axe is used only for chopping up carriage wheels.)

The robbers remain cloaked in mystery throughout – just as we never see their faces, we never learn of their past, why they rob, or really, why they decide to stop. And somehow it doesn’t matter. Young readers will fill in the blanks to suit themselves. And a bad-guys-become-good-guys story is always satisfying.

(available at






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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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