Books by Shaun Tan

CICADA by Shaun Tan
Kirkus Star
by Shaun Tan, illustrated by Shaun Tan
Released: Jan. 29, 2019

"Simultaneously sobering and uplifting, it will lead thoughtful readers to contemplate othering in their own lives. (Picture book. 12-adult)"
Tan's narratives often critique traditional office culture; this one features the inhumane treatment of the protagonist, a cicada dressed in a four-armed gray suit, complete with tie and pocket square. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 25, 2018

"Read and reread slowly, savoring every nugget. (Fiction. 12-adult)"
In contrast to the neighborhood settings of Tales from Outer Suburbia (2009), this collection of 25 illustrated poems and stories explores the dynamics between animals and humans amid breathtakingly imaginative scenes in skyscrapers and gutters. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 11, 2016

"These inscrutable, unsettling sculptures demand that viewers connect art and tale, examining their own reactions to the darkest impulses and glimpses of light within the book—and themselves. (foreword, introduction, bibliography, afterword, annotated index) (Fairy tales. 12 & up)"
Tan's latest book is a portable gallery: each spread features an artfully illuminated sculptural scene facing a paragraph-length "explanation"—an excerpt from one of 75 Grimm fairy tales. Read full book review >
Released: April 29, 2014

"Evocative, enthralling and with absolutely astounding artwork so good readers will wish that, like summer, it would last forever. (Picture book. 4 & up)"
One summer, two brothers live by mysteriously dire rules laid down by the older of the pair. Read full book review >
THE BIRD KING by Shaun Tan
Released: Feb. 1, 2013

"Rewarding territory to explore not just for budding artists or writers, but for daydreamers in general. (media and production notes) (Artist's sampler/showcase. 6 & up)"
From a master of visual mystery, a beguiling gathering of sketches, doodles, portraits and written thoughts about art and creativity. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

Nameless, ageless, genderless first-person narrators bring readers into offbeat yet recognizable places in this sparkling, mind-bending collection from the creator of The Arrival (2007). In "Our Expedition," siblings set out to see if anything exists beyond the end of their father's road map. Dysfunctional parents and the child they ignore are brought together when a dugong appears in their front lawn in "Undertow." With these and other short stories, Tan brings magic to places where magic rarely happens in books. These are fairy tales for modern times, in which there is valor, love and wisdom—without dragons and castles. The accompanying illustrations vary widely in style, medium and palette, reflecting both the events and the mood of each story, while hewing to a unifying sense of the surreal. In some stories, Tan has replaced the sparse, atmospheric text entirely with pictures, leaving the reader to absorb the stunning visual impact of his imagined universe. Several poems—and a short story—told via collage are included. Graphic-novel and text enthusiasts alike will be drawn to this breathtaking combination of words and images. (Graphic anthology. 12 & up)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

Although some of Link's work appears in other YA and adult short-story anthologies, this is her first collection wholly aimed at a young-adult audience. Weirdly wonderful and a touch macabre, the nine short stories take readers into worlds with elements of reality but also supply a fantastic twist. The opening story, "The Wrong Grave," plays into the current trend of books featuring the dead and the undead; in it, a boy whose girlfriend dies wants to dig her up to retrieve the poems he put in her coffin. "Magic for Beginners" centers on a boy whose closest friendships form around a TV show with a loyal following but no set broadcast time or channel. Erudite, economical word choices give readers a strong sense of setting without drowning them in adjectives. The humor is dry and the characters are easy to relate to, even in alien (literally and figuratively) settings. Fantasy readers used to long, single tomes may hesitate at the short-story format, but once they see these, they will want more. (Fantasy/short stories. 14 & up)Read full book review >
THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan
Kirkus Star
by Shaun Tan, illustrated by Shaun Tan
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

" It's an unashamed paean to the immigrant's spirit, tenacity and guts, perfectly crafted for maximum effect. (Graphic novel. 10+)"
An astonishing wordless graphic novel blends historical imagery with science-fiction elements to depict—brilliantly—the journey of an immigrant man from his terror-beset land of origin to a new, more peaceful home. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 15, 2005

A familiar plot gets a novel setting and cast in Tan's first solo outing. A young narrator recalls finding a lost item on the beach one day. After failing to identify its original owners, or to secure parental permission to keep it, he nearly consigns it to the tender mercies of the Federal Department of Odds and Ends (Motto: "sweepus underum carpetae"), before discovering an altogether better home. The fact that the "item" looks like an octopus and a huge hermit crab living together in a giant red teapot is but one of many visual twists here. Lad and Thing wander through a city of bare concrete walls and drab, stiffly oblivious adults—all dingily lit and placed against full-bleed collages composed of hundreds of small, clipped swatches of printed text and quirky newspaper ads. At last the child ushers his companion through an out-of-the-way door to a land where similarly surreal creatures cavort, and returns to sorting his bottle-top collection. Like David Christiana's art, or Colin Thompson's, the mix of familiarity and strangeness here will pull readers into a tantalizingly different world. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
THE RABBITS by John Marsden
Released: Dec. 1, 2003

In this terse, allegorical import, the arrival of technologically proficient "Rabbits" to a new land leads to warfare with indigenous residents, teeming cities, and devastation of the natural environment. Tan's highly stylized illustrations sport barely recognizable rabbits in ornate, high-collared costume swarming over desert landscapes, erecting factories, carving away mountains and subduing spear-carrying, uncomprehending aborigines—cast as numbats—with cannon and sheer weight of numbers. Is there a lesson here? Duh. Any tale featuring rabbits will have resonance lost to readers on other continents, but the invasion's ugly course has recognizable parallels everywhere. And rather than close with trite warnings or simplistic answers, Marsden offers only an anguished, thought-provoking question: "Who will save us from the Rabbits?" Who indeed. (Picture book. 8-10)Read full book review >
THE RED TREE by Shaun Tan
by Shaun Tan, illustrated by Shaun Tan
Released: March 25, 2003

Tan, who won the Best Artist Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2001, creates an unusual work for the very young that illuminates a dark side too often ignored or unacknowledged in children. A little red-haired girl wakens in her room one morning, "sometimes the day begins / with nothing to look forward to / and things go from bad to worse" Dry leaves that look like spiders are falling in her room, and in the gloomy outside, a huge fish looms over her head. There's a whole page of "sometimes you wait" as we see her counting aimlessly on a surface that becomes a snail's shell. As she wonders, and wanders, the world is very big and complicated. She returns to her room at the end of the day, and the small red leaf framed above her bed sprouts so that on the floor of her room, a red tree appears. Her idea? Her self? Her dreams? Who knows? And it doesn't matter. The images are obsessively detailed and full of surreal juxtapositions, and the child, who appears in a tiny boat, trapped in a bottle, and in various Bosch-inspired landscapes, lifts her head and smiles only on the last page, when she sees that flame-colored tree. An imaginative, sad, and ultimately uplifting tale of very few words and extraordinary images. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >