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Tales from Outer Suburbia

by Shaun Tan

Published by U.S. edition: Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2009
92 pages
ISBN: 978-0-545-05587-1

Ages 12 and older

Podcast featuring this book

Author/illustrator Shaun Tan takes readers on a journey off the map in a collection of tales that disrupts the stereotype of the bland, predictable suburbs. Tan injects a profound sense of displacement into the recognizable landscape in fifteen unusual stories comprising this unmatched collection 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 at the same time that familiarity is immediately set off kilter, whether itís by a water buffalo in a vacant lot that always points the way when asked (but to what?), an other-worldly foreign exchange student who leaves a tender gift behind, or 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, ďlevitating by the sheer force of so much unspoken emotion.Ē Touching on themes of isolation, community, environment, and imagination, and above all imbued with hope. Tanís stories are satisfying even as they 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, although the palette overall is subdued. 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. CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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