Shaun Tan knows alienation. Readers familiar with The Arrival know that his work differs from the traditional graphic novel. Tan’s images are so powerful; they speak volumes on their own. The narration can be understated, and I recommend you go through the stories once without reading the text.
Lost and Found is a collection of three of Tan’s earlier stories. My favorite is The Red Tree, a moving story about disconnection and how an individual struggles to get through the day. The world takes on the attributes of the narrator’s perception and is distorted by fear. The story is haunting, but underneath there is a current of hope. In Tan’s author’s note he states that children always notice the presence of the red leaf in each image, the red leaf that symbolizes hope for tomorrow.
The Lost Thing is a strange creature discovered by a boy who tries to find him a new home. The story encapsulates the individual’s struggle to assimilate into society and how even a misfit can find a home.
The Rabbits was written by John Marsden and illustrated by Tan. It is the story of Australia’s invasion by European colonists. Except in this version, rabbits invade the country. The images of Tan’s native Australia evoke a Science Fiction world of barren landscapes. Tan is especially skilled in depicting emotion through landscape in all three stories.
I strongly believe the collection will benefit teens that are struggling to establish their sense of identity. The amazing artwork and unique storytelling method will surely inspire the reader.
-Marie Penny, currently reading Animal Crackers by Gene Luen Yang
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