The Loft's Reviews > Tales from Outer Suburbia

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
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's review
Dec 30, 09

bookshelves: ya-graphic-novels

Suburbia has never been so interesting as in Shaun Tan’s "Tales From Outer Suburbia;" painted missiles dot the landscape in one story (every household has its own intercontinental ballistic missile supplied by the government in support of national security), and a large, endangered marine mammal is found stranded on a front lawn in another. When you open up Tan’s collection of 14 extraordinary tales, you immediately come face-to-face with an ominous water buffalo living in the tall grass of a vacant lot who, when solicited for advice, raises his left hoof and points a girl in the right direction. How does he know? And how do the girl and her friends decipher his directions? Shaun Tan’s "Tales From Outer Suburbia" dazzle the eye and tug at a range of emotions, from aching melancholy to fear and confusion to profound joy. The mixed media artwork masterfully combines Tan’s signature black and white drawings with collage, vibrant paintings and doodles.

After finishing this extraordinary collection, it’s almost impossible not to go right back to the beginning and start over. Upon a second or third reading, the stories change in meaning and texture, making this collection a treasure for all ages to savor again and again. Tan’s bestseller, The Arrival, displayed his unique vision and talent with images, but this collection also has words. Is it possible that his word stories are as wonderfully odd, fresh, original, whimsical and profoundly moving as his artwork? Yes!

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