Not so much a graphic novel as it is a collection of short stories saturated with mysterious illustrations, Australian author/illustrator Shaun Tan’s new book brings fantasy, magic realism, allegories, and absurdities to the subdivisions and strip malls of the postmodern suburban landscape.
As one might expect from the author of the wordless masterpiece
There is an abundance of silliness and weirdness in these stories and images, but with allegorical undertones. In one story, two boys find a man in an antiquated deep-sea diving suit wandering around their neighborhood park and lure him to their mean neighbor’s house as a trick. In another, the government distributes giant missile silos to the backyards of everyday households, where homeowners eventually paint them bright colors, converting them into birdhouses, flower pots, and dog kennels.
The illustrations are beautiful, diverse and detailed, and the stories intriguing. To a certain extent, this book does for graphic novels and young adult literature what Selznick ‘s The Invention of Hugo Cabret did in blurring the line between a picture book and a children’s novel. Recommended to anyone who enjoys intriguing illustrations and fascinating stories, and highly recommended to aspiring graphic artists, writers, illustrators and graphic novelists as a place to find some great new inspiration for their craft.
Review by Joshua Whiting, Granite School District Library Media Program
Interest Level: Grades 6 and Up
Tales from Outer Suburbia
Written and Illustrated by Shaun Tan
Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic
Release Date: February 1, 2009
ISBN: 9780545055871 (hardcover)