193. tales from outer suburbia

tales from outer suburbia by shaun tan

Pages: 95
Finished: Dec. 27, 2008
First Published: Oct. 28 (Can), Feb. 1 (USA)
Genre: short stories, adult picture book, YA
Rating: 4/5
Reason for Reading: received a review copy from the publisher .

First sentence:

when I was a kid, there was a big water buffalo living in the vacant lot at the end of our street, the one with the grass no one ever mowed.

Comments: This is a beautiful, picture book of short stories. The publisher promotes it as juvenile literature but I found the stories immensely deep and could not imagine a child appreciating the full depth of each story. Some stories are one page long, some are several pages long but each is profusely illustrated in full colour by the fantastic shaun tan. The illustrations are not just there to illustrate the story but are an integral part of the story, in fact one story has several pages of wordless illustration to propel the story along. Some of the stories are about children but certainly not all of them, one for example is about a couple about to be married.

I enjoyed each story but would classify them as strange and quirky. Each tells a rather bizarre tale that the reader finds themselves looking deeper for the message or reading between the lines for what is really happening. The artwork is amazing and there are several spreads of collage art, which as a practitioner myself, I found highly appealing. I would recommend this to those who enjoy bizarre short stories and those who enjoy graphic novels. Even though this is not a graphic novel, I found the same elements present of text and illustrations working hand in hand. Really, a delightful quick read.


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