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Tales from Outer Suburbia
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The term "suburbia" may conjure visions of vast and generic sameness, but in his hypnotic collection of 15 short stories and meditations, Tan does for the sprawling landscape what he did for the metropolis in The Arrival. Here, the emotional can be manifest physically (in "No Other Country," a down-on-its-luck family finds literal refuge in a magic "inner courtyard" in their attic) and the familiar is twisted unsettlingly (a reindeer appears annually in "The Nameless Holiday" to take away objects "so loved that their loss will be felt like the snapping of a cord to the heart"). Tan's mixed-media art draws readers into the strange settings, a la The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. In "Alert but Not Armed," a double-page spread heightens the ludicrousness of a nation in which every house has a government missile in the yard; they tower over the neighborhood, painted in cheery pastels and used as birdhouses ("If there are families in faraway countries with their own backyard missiles, armed and pointed back at us, we would hope that they too have found a much better use for them," the story ends). Ideas and imagery both beautiful and disturbing will linger. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

About the Author

Shaun Tan is an Australian artist, writer and film maker. He won an Academy Award for The Lost Thing, a 2011 animated film adaptation of a 2000 picture book he wrote and illustrated.

Reviews

The term 'suburbia' may conjure visions of vast and generic sameness, but in his hypnotic collection of 15 short stories and meditations, Tan does for the sprawling landscape what he did for the metropolis in The Arrival. Here the emotional can be manifest physically ... and the familiar is twisted unsettlingly. Ideas and imagery both beautiful and disturbing will linger. * Publishers Weekly * 'Tales of Outer Suburbia' transforms the realms of the everyday into the extraordinary. At points abstract and sometimes surreal, the short stories and fine art evoke childhood environs that are familiar but where emotion and experience is distorted. Reassessing the parameters of childhood and of the worlds children inhabit, this is a book that will be read and returned to time and again. -- Jake Hope * The Bookseller * This beautifully illustrated book takes a quirky look at some of the mysteries of urban life. Once you start reading it's very hard to stop reading more of these short stories filled with darkness and delight. -- Julia Eccleshare * Lovereading4Kids * Yet another masterpiece from the creator of the extraordinary The Arrival. You only have to peruse the cover to know that you are going to be in for a strange and wonderful trip through the more esoteric parts of this most accomplished of author/artist's imagination. Readers will find out why dogs bark in the middle of the night, and uncover the other mysteries of everyday life. * The Children's Bookseller * This collection of stories is a work of art. The illustrations include etchings, woodcuts, collages, pastels, lithographs and paint, and are variously indebted to, among others, comic strips, Edward Hopper and Samuel Palmer. The images draw the viewer through street scenes and strange landscapes. Some of the stories are told partly or entirely in pictures, expressing ideas that make words seem inadequate. Meanwhile, the text relates surreal, lyrical, witty tales of exceptional events set in ordinary life: an attic leads to a mysterious garden in the middle of a house; two squabbling brothers go exploring to prove or disprove a bet that the world ends where the street map does - only to reach a final chasm that they can hang their legs over; and in one satirical gem, every household has its own intercontinental ballistic missile in the back yard. -- Nicolette Jones * Sunday Times * This is a stunningly illustrated collection of quirky short stories from an award winning author. Featuring homemade pets, dangerous weddings and secret rooms filled with darkness and delight. Tales from Outer Suburbia is a truly beautiful book. * Mums and Dads magazine * Although a relative newcomer to picturebook creation, Shaun Tan has established himself as a leading practitioner. In Tales from Outer Suburbia he again offers something different from his earlier work, although not unexpectedly perhaps, given the directions we have seen him taking. .... Each of the stories brings something of a narrative jolt for the reader and each page turn carries a visual surprise - think Raymond Carver meets Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected undercut with a bit of The Far Side. The book itself is a superb artefact: the cover nudges at a sense that all is not predictable within, the endpapers are full of drawings from Tan's sketch book, the contents are displayed in the form of postage stamps. Every home, in suburbia and elsewhere, should have one of these. * Inis - The Children's Books Ireland Magazine * This may be the most beautiful book you'll see all year. It's an illustrated collection of stories set in the Australian suburbs, about how the fantastic keeps erupting into the most mundane daily lives. Once you've read it, you may find yourself feeling as though an exchange student from another planet has dropped by and left a glowing matchbox garden in your kitchen cupboard. * The Guardian * "This is a book to treasure, with more to discover on each re-reading". * Book Trust * "Dip into this anywhere and you will come up with a gem. This is a truly unique book". * 2010 UKLA Children's Book Awards - Special commendation * "The images and stories in Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia have stayed in my mind all year. These surreal, witty tales (accompanied by astonishingly skilled illustrations) imagine intercontinental missiles in back yards, and a garden reached through an attic." * Sunday Times Children's Books * "...Is an uncategorisable one-off by the unique and weirdly talented Australian Illustrator Shaun Tan. He has always had an eye for the misplaced, bizarre side of life...And in this strange, marvellous bewildering book, he recovers surreal memories of childhood..." -- Kate Kellaway * The Observer * Shaun Tan's new work of fourteen generously illustrated short stories is elegant and accomplished with delight in the detail. It's designed to engage, entertain, intrigue, mystify his reader-viewers, and get them thinking creatively. He leaves space for them in which to ponder on the satire, irony, fantasy, humour to appreciate the moral tale, and tolerate the open ending. There is dark account about government imposed social repression and a delightfully subversive role too, which is a triumph of the imagination over beaurocracy. In illustrative terms there are many styles to wonder at: fine line drawing with tonal modelling, the painterly dip and glide of the loaded brush, tactile expressionist mark-making, scraper board excavations as well as collage assemblages, newsprint, trompe l'oeil foolery. Gentle frescoing, and idiosyncratic cartooning. Colour ranges form monochrome to rainbow, muted to vibrant. As for the themes, Tan is encouraging his audience to see the familiar through fresh eyes, take a delight in everyday objects, wonder at the restorative power of love, discover about life for oneself, accept a challenge, and exercise the gift of imagination. Just looking at the endpapers should get children reaching for their storytelling materials. -- Jane Doonan * The SL * "renowned for his illustrations, Tan experiments creatively with the presentation of his stories by making interesting use of multimodality. This unique collection of tales will certainly invite children back to enjoy reading them time and again." -- Kerenza Ghosh * The Reading Zone website * "... an exceptionally powerful collection of short stories with astonishing illustrations for older readers. Mysterious and sophisticated, Tan delves deep into the psyche of suburbia for his unforgettably beautiful tales." * The Telegraph * "stunningly original" ... most illustrations in books are reactions to the text, but here the picture inspire the stories. They are all strange and beautiful." -- Anthony Browne * The Guardian *

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