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Tales From Outer Suburbia (2008)

Tales from Outer Suburbia (2008)

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4.34 of 5 Votes: 1
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0771084021 (ISBN13: 9780771084027)
McClelland & Stewart

About book Tales From Outer Suburbia (2008)

I really like this collection of short tales. The way Shaun Tan combines text and illustrations really does result in something that is greater than the sum of its parts. I particularly liked the eerie tone and subtle social commentary presented in stick figures, although with Tan's work it is always so open for interpretation that it's entirely possible I'm seeing something that was not intended by the author. I also like the amnesia machine, which combines newspaper conventions, illustration, political commentary and even crosswords. It is all so cleverly done and cleverly embedded into a seemingly innocuous newspaper report of a strange occurrence. I can't recommend this picturebook enough. It may inspire you. If not, it will definitely make you think. Annotation: Tales from Outer Suburbia is a collection of fifteen short stories--some funny, some unsettling or mysterious, all thought-provoking--illustrated using a dizzying variety of artistic styles and media: acrylic and oils, graphite and colored pencil, gesso, paper collage, oil on wood, ink, watercolor, ballpoint pen, scratchboard, gouache, pastel crayon, and digital techniques. The stories, set in a timeless, often fantastical, otherworldly suburb, are told in the first-person, simple past tense by an unnamed narrator, and the reader is frequently addressed directly as “you” and occasionally included as a character in the tale. Each lushly illustrated story--whether about a thimble-sized foreign exchange student, an inexplicably beached dugong, a luxurious “inner courtyard” accessible only through a hole in the attic, or two brothers’ expedition to the street at the very edge of the map--paints a world unto itself, different enough from our own to be exotic but similar enough to resonate within us.Analysis: As the semester winds to a close, I opted to address the weakest area of my YA literary repertoire--graphic fiction--with two selections that piqued my curiosity during class discussion. The first, Tales from Outer Suburbia, reminded me pleasantly of one of my favorite books from late junior high and high school: Mind Fields, a collection of the short fiction of Harlan Ellison and the artwork of Jacek Yerka, published in 1994. I loved it and gazed at it and read it over and over again because of the gorgeously intricate illustrations, coupled with text that was simultaneously surreal and emotionally true. (Writing about it now compels me to hold it and read it again, and I have just requested it from the PCL.) Tales from Outer Suburbia strikes a nearby chord, but in Tan’s own unique voice and hand, and though it doesn’t grip me quite as tightly as my earlier love, I know that it will be for some readers what Mind Fields was for me. The stories captivate because they are bizarre and haunting and open-ended, and the illustrations skillfully extend the words along with the imagination.A hallmark of a good book, Tales From Outer Suburbia made me want to read more: more about this book, more about the author, more of what he’s written. I requested everything owned by the UT and the Austin Public Library and turned next to Tan’s website, where I read about the inspiration for each story and the media employed for the illustrations. (On the site, he lists the relevant media beneath the title of each story, a smart move that I wish applied to the print book as well.) Many of the sketches preceded the texts, I learned, and the end papers feature additional sketches--the seeds of stories yet untold. Although the copyright page describes the stories as “set in suburban Australia” and on his site Tan acknowledges the influence of his upbringing in northern Perth, he also notes that “‘Outer Suburbia’ might refer both to a state of mind as well as a place: somewhere close and familiar but also on the edge of consciousness,” a borderland between the real and the imagined, the lived and the dreamed.When I added this book to my Goodreads, I noticed that a previous reader had commented “Is this really for children?? Are children really this sad and dark and complicated emotionally??” If I were to respond to her, I would provide a resounding “yes” to both questions. Yes, I believe this book is really for children, and also for young adults, and also for adults. It is not for every child, young adult, or adult, but there are readers from every age group to whom it would speak powerfully. It would have spoken to me at age 11 or age 17, and it speaks to me now. And yes, children (and young adults and adults) really are this “sad and dark and complicated emotionally.” We all are, at various times. We don’t gain sadness or darkness or emotional complexity when we gain the right to drive or vote or drink. Emotional development occurs throughout life, in tandem with physical and cognitive development. While we are not always sad or dark or complicated emotionally--many of us are, on a given, at least as likely to be happy or light or emotionally straightforward--the complexities are always with us. That is what makes us human, and it is what Tales From Outer Suburbia movingly acknowledges and explores.

Do You like book Tales From Outer Suburbia (2008)?

Quirky, Nostalgic, Entertaining, Universally Recognizable in a light-hearted sort of way.

Adore this book. So much depth and accompanied by such beautiful illustrations.

Creative ideas that don't go far enough...

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