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4.17  ·  Rating details ·  2,668 ratings  ·  561 reviews
From the visionary Shaun Tan, an inspirational story for older picture book readers and beyond
Cicada tells the story of a hardworking little cicada who is completely unappreciated for what he does. But in the end, just when you think he's given up, he makes a transformation into something ineffably beautiful. A metaphor for growing up? A bit of inspiration for the
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Arthur A. Levine Books (first published June 15th 2018)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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Cicada has worked as a data entry clerk in a tall office building for seventeen years. For all those years he has been treated horribly by the humans.


But, today is Cicada's last day.

Things are about to happen.

What Oh, The Places You'll Go! is to graduation gifts, this book should become to retirement gifts.

This is a beginning book by Shaun and wow, it is really saying something about working in a cube. The nephew laughed and laughed at the Cicada in a business suit. Still, when both children saw how the cicada was treated, they were sad. Why would people treat him that way.

After 17 years of work for a heartless company, the cicada claimed his freedom and laughed at the people all the way to the forest. It was a sad story and the children loved the ending when the cicada gained its freedom.

David Schaafsma
Shaun Tan is the author of the wordless masterpiece, The Arrival. Cicada is less ambitious, more minimal on almost every level, though it does feature about 150 words, written in a kind of representation of how some Asians might speak if they are learning English.

Cicada work in tall building.
Data entry clerk. Seventeen year.
No sick day. No mistake.
Tok Tok Tok!

So I think Cicada is Asian, and I think this book is about racism and class-ism, as Cicada is mistreated at work by other people because
What an absolutely delightful book! Aussie author Shaun Tan is one very talented man! The artwork in Cicada, a short but beautifully written children’s book, is spectacular; the story wonderful.

Cicada has been working for the same company for seventeen years – a hardworking little guy who was completely unappreciated. But he gets the last laugh – as I did – in the end! I loved it, my grandchildren love it – it’s one to recommend highly. Magic!

With thanks to Hachette AU for my copy to read and
Sep 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: australia
Simply written with an understated palette, an ostracized cicada toils to survive in the world. The Australian illustrator deftly demonstrates the undervalued, the ignored, and overworked in the workplace. What happens to him in the end?
I love Shaun Tan but this one was a massive disappointment. It looks as you would expect, bleakly gorgeous. But it takes about one minute to read and lacks much of the charm and depth of all his other works. Back to reread the The Red Tree and The Arrival to cheer myself up .
A picturebook that nudges close to being wordless with only 150 words throughout and many of them repeated, Cicada tells the story of a little bug who spends 17 years working thanklessly and largely ignored in a high-rise office. The world he inhabits flits between shades of grey and his green skill and dark bulbous eyes provide the only contrast in the dull world he inhabits.
As with all Tan's books, meaning may not come to the reader immediately but this is purposeful. Tan states that he
Bec (becklepanda)
I don't know how, in 150 words, Shaun Tan ripped my heart out and then breathed it back to life. His drawings, detail and observation of life is nothing but raw and beautiful. Immediately after finishing it, my first thought was: "How burdened and grey we are, without freedom and creativity." As usual, another work of Shaun Tan's that is not only beautiful, but soulful, and I will no doubt be cracking this open many more times to revisit this cute, sad, honest and revitalising story.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cicada is a picture-book intended for 7-9-year-olds, written and skilfully illustrated by award-winning Australian illustrator and author, Shaun Tan. Cicada has been working tirelessly as a data processor, without thanks, or privilege or reward, for the same humans, for seventeen years. Seventeen years: we may not remember the significance of that period of time until the aha! moment, when it will bring a smile to the faces of most readers. Tan combines his evocative artwork with a poignant but ...more
Proper review to come.

Another stunning book from Shaun Tan, with a really important message about racism and immigrants, but told by a cicada.

Having an insect (something that is decidedly not human) in place of a human who is treated the same as migrants will hopefully open some eyes.

There's a real gut-punch here towards the end which probably won't mean much to kids but is sure to get to adults reading the book to them.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Nerd Daily
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Jayse Smith

From the author of the award-winning picture book The Arrival comes a new story sure to be another hit.

Cicada is the story of, well, Cicada, who spends his entire life in a grey workplace as a data entry clerk. Cicada goes above and beyond in his job and yet is not rewarded or recognised for his efforts. He has worked in this workplace for seventeen years, never had one sick day, and always arrives on time. To add insult to injury,
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is my second reviewing of this one (for a challenge). The grandkids love it; the big kids love it (us!) So beautifully illustrated and written by Aussie author Shaun Tan, as are all his books. It's a book to read over and over again; one you'll never tire of. This magical read is highly recommended.

Astrid Edwards
Cicada is a work that packs a punch regardless of your age. Shaun Tan had my family – my 62 year old mother and 46 year old partner, as well as my 7 and 4 year old nieces – quiet, contemplative and on the edge of their seats.

On the surface, this is a commentary about the inanity and heartlessness of 21st century corporate life, told through the eyes of the eponymous Cicada. But this brilliant short story is of course more than that. In only 150 words (many of them repeated), Tan evokes powerful
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This children's picture book by Shaun Tan is about Cicada, who is employed in an office as a data entry clerk and is under-appreciated and bullied in the workplace. I instantly felt for Cicada and was astonished at how quickly I became caught up and invested in his work/life circumstances. The illustrations and minimalist accompanying text are simple yet surprisingly moving. This is an exploration of bullying within the corporate environment and I think many readers - regardless of age - will ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books

Cicada is another head scratching, wonder inducing read by Shaun Tan.

Once again, I find myself saying, “Hmmm,” after a Tan read. But isn’t that what magic is sometimes? The not knowing? The wonder! The mystery!

We are introduced to a suit clad cicada toiling away in a cubicle and living in the walls. He’s underappreciated and bullied. Humans walk all over him. Then after 17 years of work, cicada makes his way out, to the surface and transforms. Cicada changes and grows and finds a beautiful new
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Gripping, suspenseful, surprising, sad, beautiful, smart.

Shaun Tan is, as always, an inspiration to anyone thinking about creating something original and to anyone wanting to be moved by experiencing something original.

Shaun Tan is a master storyteller. Minimal text - emotive punch. Last few pages ... breathtaking.
Nadine Jones

This is the saddest and most disturbing picture book I’ve ever read. This is not a children’s book. It’s not that it will be scary or upsetting, it’s just very grown up, and to a grown up it may seem quite depressing. Like the movie Brazil.

The art is gorgeous. Because of course it is.

Cicada works in a cubicle farm.

Cicada work in tall building.
Data entry clerk. Seventeen year.
No sick day. No mistake.
Tok Tok Tok!

His boss doesn’t appreciate him, the human coworkers hate him (and stomp on
Brona's Books
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who has been under-appreciated, over-worked, ignored or misunderstood Shaun Tan's latest offering, Cicada, will break your heart, then put it back together again.

He does it to me EVERY SINGLE TIME!

With his magic combination of perfect word choice and stunning illustrations, Tan brings Cicada's internal life to light. I'd love to tell you more about it, in great detail, but I want you to discover the joy of this story for the first time yourself.
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
150 perfectly chosen words. Reading this book, and taking in the illustrations was a truly immersive experience. Shaun Tan is a master of his craft, expressing so much and eliciting such strong emotions.

I finished reading it and immediately thrust it into the hands of everyone standing near me. One to reread often.
Barbara McEwen
I don't usually review picture books but Shaun Tan can say so very much with little or even no words. Cicada is no exception. The drawings are priceless, Cicada's movements are so expressive! This book boldly addresses the immigrant experience but also includes humour and hope, all in a few short pages.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars - 3 stars.

Excellent artwork, story was ok. (But I guess I’m not the target audience!)
Sophie Anderson
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I choked up, cried sad tears. Then I cried happy tears. Then I thought about the book all day. Shaun Tan is a genius.

Simon Sweetman
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every Shaun Tan book is amazing. A journey. A trip. A world. This is one of his very best.
Bethwyn (Butterfly Elephant Books)
Shaun Tan has long been on of my favourite artists, and I adore his books. I have a vague recollection of him coming to a Primary School event of mine and reading his lovely book The Red Tree to me and my classmates, but that could have been some strange dream. Though he did used to live really nearby to my house...

Anyway, Tan manages once again to completely rip open my heart and then give it back to me with a tiny little piece of hope to mend it, like using kintsugi on a bowl or cup. I don't
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Shaun Tan
Strange, but oddly resonant tale of the seventeen years of a cicada's wait to break free from its shell and emerge as an adult.

The illustrations, created using oil on canvas and paper, are dark and often foreboding with just the touch of green and later, red. They convey the solitude of the cicada in his long wait, and the anthropomorphicized cicada in his business suit seems all too human.

The bullying of the cicada is terrible and makes me think of the racism that is still rampant in our
Elizabeth A
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, art, kids-ya
2.5 stars.

This picture book must be for an older age group than most books of this kind.

Cicada works in data entry and is mistreated, bullied, underpaid, and underappreciated. That ending though! Was it only me or did something feel lost in translation?

The art is fantastic, but this is a Shaun Tan book, so I wouldn't expect anything else. The text however was rather pedestrian, and didn't convey as much as some of his wordless books do. 4 stars for the art, 1 star for the text, and I rounded up
Subtle, complex and a work of great beauty.

On one level, it's a transformative tale about a downtrodden bug. On another, it feels like the story of every Asian-Australian kid in a corporate environment.

All the feels. So brilliant.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was ok

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Shaun Tan (born 1974) is the illustrator and author of award-winning children's books. After freelancing for some years from a studio at Mt. Lawley, Tan relocated to Melbourne, Victoria in 2007. Tan was the Illustrator in Residence at the University of Melbourne's Department of Language Literacy and Arts Education for two weeks through an annual Fellowship offered by the May Gibbs Children’s ...more
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