Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan – A Book Review

Comprised of fifteen short stories, this beautifully illustrated, ninety-six page book is aimed at an audience of twelve and older.

Young people will love the magical realism of Tan’s charming stories, as well as the diverse and mesmerizing artwork.

Older teenagers and adults will appreciate the above aspects also, but they will also treasure the absolute expertise of Tan’s craft, noticing how no detail is left unattended.  For instance, the book’s table of contents is made to look like used stamps and the dedication a processed envelope.  His acknowledgements at the end of the book appear as a used library card.  The entire book showcases such excellent execution of Tan’s imagination, it boggles the mind that someone can employ so many different techniques within the same collection and still create a successfully unified, consistent work.

But Tan is more than simply a skilled artist.  His amusing stories are, at first-glance, seemingly irrelevant and only concerned with engaging young people’s interest, but I think some astute readers will pick up on certain social commentary in the subtext if they look hard enough.  My delight rose to a whole new level when reading it in this light.

Tales From Outer Suburbia is a fulfilling read with charming stories and splendid illustrations that will enchant children and adults alike.

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