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Tales from Outer Suburbia Hardcover – 1 Mar 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Templar Publishing (1 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840113138
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840113136
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 19 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The term 'suburbia' may conjure visions of vast and generic sameness, but in his hypnotic collection of 15 short stories and meditations, Tan does for the sprawling landscape what he did for the metropolis in The Arrival. Here the emotional can be manifest physically ... and the familiar is twisted unsettlingly. Ideas and imagery both beautiful and disturbing will linger. Publishers Weekly 'Tales of Outer Suburbia' transforms the realms of the everyday into the extraordinary. At points abstract and sometimes surreal, the short stories and fine art evoke childhood environs that are familiar but where emotion and experience is distorted. Reassessing the parameters of childhood and of the worlds children inhabit, this is a book that will be read and returned to time and again. -- Jake Hope The Bookseller This beautifully illustrated book takes a quirky look at some of the mysteries of urban life. Once you start reading it's very hard to stop reading more of these short stories filled with darkness and delight. -- Julia Eccleshare Lovereading4Kids Yet another masterpiece from the creator of the extraordinary The Arrival. You only have to peruse the cover to know that you are going to be in for a strange and wonderful trip through the more esoteric parts of this most accomplished of author/artist's imagination. Readers will find out why dogs bark in the middle of the night, and uncover the other mysteries of everyday life. The Children's Bookseller This collection of stories is a work of art. The illustrations include etchings, woodcuts, collages, pastels, lithographs and paint, and are variously indebted to, among others, comic strips, Edward Hopper and Samuel Palmer. The images draw the viewer through street scenes and strange landscapes. Some of the stories are told partly or entirely in pictures, expressing ideas that make words seem inadequate. Meanwhile, the text relates surreal, lyrical, witty tales of exceptional events set in ordinary life: an attic leads to a mysterious garden in the middle of a house; two squabbling brothers go exploring to prove or disprove a bet that the world ends where the street map does - only to reach a final chasm that they can hang their legs over; and in one satirical gem, every household has its own intercontinental ballistic missile in the back yard. -- Nicolette Jones Sunday Times This is a stunningly illustrated collection of quirky short stories from an award winning author. Featuring homemade pets, dangerous weddings and secret rooms filled with darkness and delight. Tales from Outer Suburbia is a truly beautiful book. Mums and Dads magazine Although a relative newcomer to picturebook creation, Shaun Tan has established himself as a leading practitioner. In Tales from Outer Suburbia he again offers something different from his earlier work, although not unexpectedly perhaps, given the directions we have seen him taking. ... Each of the stories brings something of a narrative jolt for the reader and each page turn carries a visual surprise - think Raymond Carver meets Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected undercut with a bit of The Far Side. The book itself is a superb artefact: the cover nudges at a sense that all is not predictable within, the endpapers are full of drawings from Tan's sketch book, the contents are displayed in the form of postage stamps. Every home, in suburbia and elsewhere, should have one of these. Inis - The Children's Books Ireland Magazine This may be the most beautiful book you'll see all year. It's an illustrated collection of stories set in the Australian suburbs, about how the fantastic keeps erupting into the most mundane daily lives. Once you've read it, you may find yourself feeling as though an exchange student from another planet has dropped by and left a glowing matchbox garden in your kitchen cupboard. The Guardian "This is a book to treasure, with more to discover on each re-reading". Book Trust "Dip into this anywhere and you will come up with a gem. This is a truly unique book". 2010 UKLA Children's Book Awards - Special commendation "The images and stories in Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia have stayed in my mind all year. These surreal, witty tales (accompanied by astonishingly skilled illustrations) imagine intercontinental missiles in back yards, and a garden reached through an attic." Sunday Times Children's Books "...Is an uncategorisable one-off by the unique and weirdly talented Australian Illustrator Shaun Tan. He has always had an eye for the misplaced, bizarre side of life...And in this strange, marvellous bewildering book, he recovers surreal memories of childhood..." -- Kate Kellaway The Observer Shaun Tan's new work of fourteen generously illustrated short stories is elegant and accomplished with delight in the detail. It's designed to engage, entertain, intrigue, mystify his reader-viewers, and get them thinking creatively. He leaves space for them in which to ponder on the satire, irony, fantasy, humour to appreciate the moral tale, and tolerate the open ending. There is dark account about government imposed social repression and a delightfully subversive role too, which is a triumph of the imagination over beaurocracy. In illustrative terms there are many styles to wonder at: fine line drawing with tonal modelling, the painterly dip and glide of the loaded brush, tactile expressionist mark-making, scraper board excavations as well as collage assemblages, newsprint, trompe l'oeil foolery. Gentle frescoing, and idiosyncratic cartooning. Colour ranges form monochrome to rainbow, muted to vibrant. As for the themes, Tan is encouraging his audience to see the familiar through fresh eyes, take a delight in everyday objects, wonder at the restorative power of love, discover about life for oneself, accept a challenge, and exercise the gift of imagination. Just looking at the endpapers should get children reaching for their storytelling materials. -- Jane Doonan The SL "renowned for his illustrations, Tan experiments creatively with the presentation of his stories by making interesting use of multimodality. This unique collection of tales will certainly invite children back to enjoy reading them time and again." -- Kerenza Ghosh The Reading Zone website "... an exceptionally powerful collection of short stories with astonishing illustrations for older readers. Mysterious and sophisticated, Tan delves deep into the psyche of suburbia for his unforgettably beautiful tales." The Telegraph "stunningly original" ... most illustrations in books are reactions to the text, but here the picture inspire the stories. They are all strange and beautiful." -- Anthony Browne The Guardian

About the Author

Shaun Tan is the author and illustrator of the award-winning, bestselling graphic novel THE ARRIVAL, and also TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA, a collection of illustrated short stories. Both books were named to the New York Times list of Best Illustrated Children's Books. He won an Oscar for his short film "The Lost Thing" based on a story in the book LOST & FOUND: THREE BY SHAUN TAN, and he is also the recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Shaun Tan lives in Melbourne, Australia. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

By Parka HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 29 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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By TeensReadToo TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 26 Jan. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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