Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Tales from Outer Suburbia - review

This sophisticated picture book-cum-short short story collection - Tales from Outer Suburbia - is written and illustrated by award-winning Australian picture book artist Shaun Tan. And it is absolutely amazing. The illustrations and story combine and blend perfectly, and have a deep meaning that lingers in the mind long after the book is closed.  Shaun's short stories stick in your mind. They have a simple setting that is brought to life through his elegant prose and beautiful painting illustrations. All the stories in this book make you think deeply about the meaning of them. Even the most unimaginative will be intrigued and inspired by this book. Just the right amount of plot in each story is left unsolved to get you thinking, wondering what might have been. My favourite story in it is probably Alert but not Alarmed. Here's the first sentence as a taster:

"It's funny how these days, when every household has its own intercontinental ballistic missile, you hardly even think about them..."

Overall, I'm rating Tales from Outer Suburbia at 11/10. Yes, that's technically not correct. No, I don't care. The pictures alone make it a 10/10. This book is one of the most well-crafted I have ever seen. Shaun has done several other sophisticated picture books, the most noteworthy being The Arrival - a silent visual tale of a man's immigration to a enormous, strange and alien country and the amazing people he meets there. If you want to check these out, or get more information on Tales from Outer Suburbia, go to Shaun's book website at

Posted by Fantom at 4:54 pm, WEDNESDAY 17 June

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