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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High doses of surrealism in this book, 29 Mar. 2009
By 
Parka (Singapore) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Length:: 0:18 Mins

I bought this book thinking it was an art book, but it's not. Tales From Outer Suburbia is more of an illustrated story book containing 15 short fantasy stories. And it's a children's book, but more for those above 12 year old because some of the stories are, well, very surreal. It's the surrealism of the illustrations that really caught my attention.

Shawn Tan has a knack of storytelling mixing illustrations and words. He would sometimes end a story arc with a two page illustration to bring the story in full effect. For example, in the story called Grandpa's Story, there will be pages of single panels to show his Scavenger Hunt journey before he can marry. In another story Distant Rain, it was told in the form of a newspaper print.

The stories are really surreal and imaginative. Two things come to my mind when reading are Roald Dahl and Big Fish the movie. All great works of surrealism. Anyone who likes the two should like this book.

There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful book, 5 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Tales from Outer Suburbia (Hardcover)
THis is really a children's book, but with a difference, the tales all have a twist, not always a happy or predictable ending, eg the children who walk so far they really do reach the end of the world. But the illustrations are fantastic and quirky
Its a book to treasure - and keep away from the children !
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeded Expectations...and that's saying something!, 4 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Tales from Outer Suburbia (Hardcover)
I was already a Shaun Tan fan thanks to the beautiful 'The Red Tree', so was very much drawn to this book hoping it would be in a similar vein. I was not disappointed. The illustrations, as always, are beautiful, subtle, haunting and enchanting all at once, but for me it is the poignancy of the stories that lingers. It's that incredible balance of simplicity and complexity all at once. The things left unsaid. The warm little feelings left behind as small and perfect as the parting gifts in 'Eric'.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, 26 Jan. 2009
By 
TeensReadToo "Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier." (All Over the US & Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Welcome to the suburbs of Australia as seen through the eyes of author Shaun Tan. This collection of fifteen stories is creatively written and illustrated. A comment on the last page mentions that the book was created with the assistance of "the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body."

Not only are readers presented with tales inspired by humor and often bizarre events, but they are also treated to unique, eye-catching artwork with each story. One story, titled "Stick Figures," asks readers to imagine twig-like creatures that roam the neighborhoods. Their stick bodies and sod heads are magical and mysterious.

"Eric" is a foreign exchange student like no other you can imagine. His view of our world and the things he takes from it will make readers look more closely at the little things in their everyday lives.

"Distant Rain" is created on bits and scraps of paper. It presents the idea that all the snippets, phrases, and sound bytes people encounter daily might all blend together in a massive ball like bits and pieces of poetry. "A vast accumulation of papery bits that ultimately takes to the air, levitating by the sheer force of so much unspoken emotion" will have readers appreciating the written and spoken word on a whole new level.

My favorite of the stories is "Alert but Not Alarmed." Here readers are asked to visualize a neighborhood where every backyard includes a huge "intercontinental ballistic missile." Placed there by the government, these missiles are at the ready to protect the neighborhoods from harm. As the years go by and the missiles remain unfired, people begin to develop their own unique ways to utilize each missile. Their protection changes from objects of deadly force and destruction to objects of art and usefulness.

Author Shaun Tan provides entertainment and a good deal of food for thought in TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA. It is an excellent source of creative writing ideas and genre variety to be used with students of just about any age.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tan-Fastic!, 5 Jan. 2010
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tales from Outer Suburbia (Hardcover)
'Tales from Outer Suburbia' is a delightful book. It contains 14 sumptuous and surreal short-stories, each beautifully illustrated. Each story feels like a paean to a time that never existed - when the air was clean, the streets safe, and your biggest worry how a dugong ended up in the middle of your front lawn. Magically appearing sea cows are typical denizens of the fantasy-tinged 1950's idyll that Tan has created. Inside the covers of this slender book are brightly decorated nuclear missiles, a wise water-buffalo and a town that ends abruptly at the edge of the street atlas.

Tan uses a number artistic styles to tell his tales, each fitting well with the story being told. Some stories are blocks of text with illustrations, and others have the text embedded in the pictures themselves. Each is charming, some are sad and others joyous. The strongest tales are those tinged with pathos, and tip a knowing wink to our harsher less pleasant world.

'Tales of Outer Suburbia' is a book lovers book, that will appeal to children and adults alike. Like many graphic novels, you don't get very much paper for your money, but Tan's stories will bear many repeat visits. Every page of this remarkable book is worth its weight in gold. Buy it, you won't regret it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shaun Tan is a stunning picture book write and illustrator, 9 May 2010
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This review is from: Tales from Outer Suburbia (Hardcover)
Shaun Tan's unique stories coupled with innovative, detailed and gorgeous illustrations make this book truly one of its kind. I poured over the detail for hours and still haven't exhausted the depth of this collection. I already know of several friends for whom I plan to buy this book for birthday presents.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab bedtime book!, 9 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Tales from Outer Suburbia (Hardcover)
I read this to my eight-year old before bed. The stories are short enough for bed-time, and give us both plenty to talk and think about. The pictures are wonderful. The stories approach subjects you don't really know how to talk about, like animal cruelty, loneliness and discrimination. Things that exist in our world, and a child this age is beggining to notice, and will be soon forming their own views on. The stories help you to bring up the subject, and you get your child's thoughts on them. Each story has a positive and happy ending. Some of the stories have been written totally as a child of eight or nine would understand. They are all magical and fascinating and have definately helped my eight-year old to look at things differently. The first of Shaun Tan's books we read, Eric, lead us to get the above, Tales from Outer Suburbia. If you want to provoke conversations with your kids, I would say buy this book, it is worth every penny. It might help you to instill good morals and principles. It would be hard going for kids below age seven I would say, and ideal up to eleven or twelve. I am forty and I love this book myself, and as I said above, the drawings are amazing. Top quality kids book, can't fault it. All of Shaun Tan's books are fantastic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tantastic, 20 Dec. 2009
By 
Ste to the J (Mansfield England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tales from Outer Suburbia (Hardcover)
A book of 15 simple short stories that manage to be eerie, surreal, funny, beautiful and clever at the same time, i could have used many other words but really you must find out for yourself what you are missing out on. The drawings are wonderful, infusing the normal with the slightly odd and down right bizarre.

This idea of re-evaluating the norm gives the book scope to make the unbelievable(the childish imagination in us, if you will) believable and bring back the magic of everything mundane and dreary that surrounds us. It really is the simple fascination of life through a childs eyes, where all is possible coupled with drawings that take on a bleak yet hopeful or just plain nice look that makes this book what it is.

Woefully this book is not as well known as it should be, everyone should get a copy of this and enjoy such standout tales as Distant Rain(what happens to all the poetry that people write and discard) and Alert but not Alarmed(where everyone has a ballistic missile in their gardens).
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5.0 out of 5 stars I know you think you saw him first, but I'm pretty sure it was me..., 24 Jun. 2012
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tales from Outer Suburbia (Hardcover)
Page 1. A Man stands on a suburban street holding a hosepipe. Floating down the street is a woman in a boat. The boat has its own miniature cloud which hovers precisely over the section of the boat where flowers are arrayed on the gunwhale. The cloud waters the flowers. There is a seagull standing at the stern of the boat. The man on the street watches the woman approach, his paltry hosepipe cannot hope to bring relief to the baking grass. The woman rows serenely on.
Page 8. Eric: the exchange student who came to stay and the wonderful gift that he left.
Page 24. broken toys. The story of the man in the diving suit who spoke Japanese. During which he is taken to the house of Mrs Bad News after the children do the Special Handshake of Unbreakable agreement.
Page 28. Distant Rain: a poem. Includes the words: "the truth is that unread poetry will almost always be just that. Doomed to join a vast invisible river of waste that flows out of suburbia"
Page 36. undertow - a story about a dugong (a plant-eating mammal that lives in the Indian Ocean).
Page 40. grandpa's story: the story of the wedding on the other side of the hill.
Page 65. Stick figures. Young children sometimes dress them in old clothes and hats as if they were dolls or scarecrows, and are always scolded by parents, whose reasons are unclear. `Just don't,' they say sternly. Some older boys take great delight in beating them with baseball bats, golf clubs, or whatever is at hand, including the victim's snapped off limbs. With careful aim a good strike will send the head - a faceless clod of earth - flying high into the air. The body remains passively upright until smashed to splinters between heels and asphalt.
Page 80. wake, which begins: "on a cold night last winter there was a fire at the house of a man who only days before had beaten his dog to death."
Page 92. night of the turtle rescue - which ends with the words "keep going, keep going, keep going."
The pictures are all and everything. The words don't really explain them, because this is outer suburbia where a dog may speak French, a cat may be a saint, and a TV may grow arms to hold the very small children placed in front of it.
Disturbing, surreal, compulsively alarming, mischievous, beautiful and strange.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book, 30 May 2014
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This review is from: Tales from Outer Suburbia (Hardcover)
This book is fabulous. I'm a teacher and use it so much in my class as a discussion point and for inspiration for writing. The stories are beautiful, the pictures even more so.
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Tales from Outer Suburbia
Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan (Hardcover - 1 Mar. 2009)
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