Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

Cindy: Lynn has been waiting for me to read this for forever. I have no excuse except that it is a thin book and kept getting lost in my stacks and piles of reading despite my eagerness to read it. Fortunately it is just publishing this month, so I’m not really too far behind. Tales from Outer Suburbia (Scholastic/Levine 2009) is another imaginative offering from the author of 2007’s amazing The Arrival. As with most literary collections, readers will each be deeply moved by some entries and less so by others. I was drawn to Eric’s delightful and thought-provoking exchange student story with its intriguing little leaf man who looks like he could be a Joe Bender magnetic toy. Another favorite was the collage story that posits an answer for what might happen to all the unread poems in the world. And, what would it take for Scholastic and Shaun Tan to offer us a poster of the Tuesday Afternoon Reading Group art? My middle schoolers and I would love to have this hanging on our library wall….

Lynn: Not that I am complaining but I’ve been waiting forever for Cindy to finish this! It was definitely worth the wait as Tan proves a master of words as well as illustration as he uses both brilliantly in this collection of unique and mesmerizing stories. From the water buffalo who knows what’s in our hearts to the townsfolk that customize (and disable) the missiles they must store in their backyards, each story is a small gem. Tan’s agile imagination leaps and soars from one astonishing page to the next, easily carrying the reader with him into territory that is at once alien and familiar. Underlying all the stories is a lovely sense of hope and optimism and a gentle reminder that there are hidden gardens everywhere if we will only look. This is a book to be read over and over again and I am heading off to buy my own copy. No more sharing this book with Cindy for me!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

4 Comments on "Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan"

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  1. Loved. It. So glad to see Cindy finally got around to reading it and that you guys posted it here. A thought-provoking read for all ages. I liked the great turtle escape!

  2. terilesesne@gmail.com' Teri Lesesne says:

    Did you guys see the cover for the Brit edition? Rather interesting to see that the publisher decided a new cover was in order. Quite frankly, I thought each cover was thought-provoking and alluring. Shaun Tan knocked my socks off with THE ARRIVAL. Now he shows us what he can do with words and pictures.

  3. I hadn’t seen the British cover, Teri, but looked it up. It can be seen here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/1840113138/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link
    I like the new cover best and think it will attract teens better, but the original is intriguing, too. Thanks for the alert.–Cindy

  4. lynnrutan@charter.net' Lynn Rutan says:

    Thanks, Teri! I hadn’t seen it either. I really like the British cover but I think the US one is more eye-catching. – Lynn

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