Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Lost and Found

Lost and Found

Spring 2011 Fiction
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Author: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545229241
Hardcover Price: $21.99

Lost and Found is a collection of three graphic novels by Shaun Tan published previously in Australia but not widely known here. Those young adults and others keen on graphic novels who liked Tan's The Arrival and Tales from Outer Suburbia, will love these newly available titles.

The first, "The Red Tree," seems an early experiment in Tan’s signature combination of magical realism and art nouveau. Lacking an overarching narrative, the book straddles picture book and graphic novel territory. It reads as a notebook of drawings or, as Tan himself describes them, meditations on a feeling - in this case, alienation and displacement. One striking images depicts a huge trout looming over a downtown area.

“The Lost Thing,” the second in the series, does have a direct narrative. In fact, this is the story that was made into Tan’s Academy-Award-Winning animated short that can now be viewed online. It is an account of an “objet trouvé”, a creature that might have been imagined by Salvador Dali or Hieronymous Bosch, a huge and living metal teapot with worm-like tentacles. Throughout the story, the curious thing is how no one seems to pay much attention to this conspicuous oddity--except for the young boy who takes it home.

John Marsden supplies the words to the final story, “The Rabbits,” which tells about the settling of Australia from the perspective of its indigenous peoples. In mythic language, we are told how the Rabbit People (colonists) took over a continent already occupied by others. For this legend, Tan provides sci-fi and steampunk inspired drawings that seem to show events as if unfolding before the baffled eyes of the narrators. At the same time, the pictures universalizes this archetypal story of colonization.

Jerry Griswold   ©2011 Parents' Choice

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