Tales from Outer Suburbia

by Shaun Tan

Author/illustrator Shaun Tan takes readers on a journey off the map in a collection... read more

Author/illustrator Shaun Tan takes readers on a journey off the map in a collection of tales that disrupt the stereotype of the bland, predictable suburbs. Tan injects a profound sense of displacement into the recognizable landscape in fifteen unusual stories in which a sense of wonder abounds. All the tales are illustrated, although some are told mostly through prose while others are graphic novel style. In each, the reader is grounded by a sense of the familiar, and yet that familiarity is immediately set off kilter, whether by an otherworldly foreign exchange student who leaves a tender gift behind or revelation of a secret sanctuary hidden in every suburban home. Imagine scraps of all the poems written but never shared forming a huge ball of paper that floats into the air, “levitating by the sheer force of so much unspoken emotion.” Touching on themes of isolation, community, environment, and imagination, and above all imbued with hope, Tan’s stories leave ample room for readers to think, discuss, and draw their own conclusions about their meaning. Tan adapts his visual style to suit each story. Some entries are as short as a single page, and many make terrific launching points for additional imagining and storytelling, whether written, drawn, or orally told. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2010

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