Breathtakingly Illustrated And Hauntingly Written, Tales From Outer Suburbia Is By Turns Hilarious And Poignant, Perceptive And Goofy Through A Series Of Captivating And Sophisticated Illustrated Stories, Tan Explores The Precious Strangeness Of Our Existence He Gives Us A Portrait Of Modern Suburban Existence Filtered Through A Wickedly Monty Pythonesque Lens Whether It S Discovering That The World Really Does Stop At The End Of The City S Map Book, Or A Family S Lesson In Tolerance Through An Alien Cultural Exchange Student, Tan S Deft, Sweet Social Satire Brings Us Face To Face With The Humor And Absurdity Of Modern Life


10 thoughts on “Tales from Outer Suburbia

  1. says:

    is this really for children are children really this sad and dark and complicated emotionally i dont know, but i know that this book is outstanding i think in a way it is harder to tell a story without words, like the arrival, but this shows that he is also an exceptional word story teller and i am an exceptional word hyphen stringer.


  2. says:

    This little book is a children s book for adults and it is a masterpiece It consists of short stories written and illustrated by Shaun Tan who is a man with the wildest imagination ever.My favourite of the stories tells the tale of two boys who argue over what happens when you reach the end of the street directory Have you ever looked at that last page and wondered where the roads go next The boys find out and there is a brilliant illustration of when they do.I also loved Alert but not Alarmed where people are required to keep missiles in their gardens, just one each, ready in case they are needed Residents are sent grey paint to help them in the upkeep but over time they start to use them for all sorts of purposes and decorate them in beautiful ways and many colours There is a moral in this tale.So much fun Crazy but beautiful illustrations Clever stories I enjoyed it very much.


  3. says:

    4.5 The house at number seventeen was only ever mentioned with lowered voices by the neighbours They knew well the frequent sounds of shouting, slamming doors and crashing objects But one sultry summer night, something else happened, something far interesting the appearance of a large marine animal on the front lawn Where do you go from here in a story titled Undertow Australian author artist Shaun Tan has THE most interesting imagination The stories are short and thought provoking in the extreme They are the sort of topics that are going to leave people with differing opinions and the urge to express them.This is the delightful Table of Contents, which I was admiring as artwork before I realised what it really was The stamp values are page numbers.Illustration of contents pageI have a few favourites No Other Country No other country is worse than this one is about a family suffering extreme summer heat, so hot that the plastic Christmas tree in the attic has melted itself to the rafters While trying to pry it loose, one of the kids puts a foot through the ceiling, but it doesn t protrude into the room below They discover another garden with cool breezes, what they call the inner courtyard, where the seasons are reversed and the trees and walls and frescoes are straight out of the old country A place to escape, a place of respite What the Illustration of part of the inner courtyardAnother favourite is Alert But Not Alarmed a phrase oft quoted to Australians by government Ballistic missiles are increasingly parked at houses in the suburbs with instructions to look after them and paint them every couple of years, free grey paint provided, of course.But they take up a lot of room, so gradually, people find other uses for them, hang lights on them at Christmas and generally get on with peaceful lives, knowing the missiles probably won t work if ever need by the government Deep down, most of us feel it s probably better this way After all, if there are families in far away countries with their own backyard missiles, armed and pointed back at us, we would hope that they too have found a much better use for them Illustration of suburban ICBMs, dressed for peacetime.A third favourite was Our Expedition where two brothers argue over the last page in their father s street directory, page 268 One argues that because the streets and houses go right to the edge of the page, there are obviously pages missing The other brother says if that were true, the edge of the page would say joins Map 269 And he bets 20 he s right The boys ride a bus to the end of the line and then take off on foot with backpacks with all the necessities for such a journey chocolate, orange juice, little boxes of sultanas raisins and, of course, the contentious street directory This is a scenario I can well imagine having been a part of Guess who wins the bet view spoiler hide spoiler


  4. says:

    What would it be like to have a children s story book without fairies, princesses and princes, dungeons and dragons and the usual haberdasheries known as the ingredients of a children s book What if there was a book of stories set in the urban concrete jungle about everyday things that made normal life look magical With beautiful illustrations, and wordplay, Shaun Tan did just that.In Tales from Outer Suburbia the stories revolve around the tiny elements of our daily lives that we barely give any credit but play a significant role nevertheless Stories about loss, about kindness and empathy and the struggles of marriage Adult themes written for children, to allow their inquisitive minds to face the reality of our existences.Whether or not Shaun Tan has been successful in portraying the story of modern urban life to children is up to the readers and their parents to decide No matter what, one has to admit that Tan s work does leave a mark on the mind of his readers, regardless of age.Happy reading


  5. says:

    This is truly spectaculara collection of wildly imaginative very short stories accompanied by artwork that clearly demonstrates Shaun Tan s remarkable artistic range He employs many different techniques and seems to use every available space inside the covers to spread his magic in a way that is fresh and fun From the table of contents to the acknowledgements to the oodles of doodles on the inside covers, this is something tomarvel Shelved as YA Graphic, this is better than that It requires its own label And though the stories are a bit offbeat and the language is beautifully rich, I will read this with my children I know they will notice and appreciate pieces that I have missed or misunderstood I can t wait to see this through their eyes.My favorite story begins my brother and I could easily spend hours arguing about the correct lyrics to a TV jingle, the impossibility of firing a gun in outer space, where cashew nuts come from, or whether we really did see a saltwater crocodile in the neighbor s pool that one time 5 stars


  6. says:

    On the face of it, I m an inadequate reviewer for Shaun Tan When you review a book for kids, what do you do You take that little book, you pick apart its layers if you re lucky enough to find any , then you box up each and every one of those layers, a paragraph apiece, and voila Instant review Having a format to follow makes everything so simple It s as if you re simply filling in the blanks on a Mad Libs sheet Pronoun has written an adjective book that will adverb verb you each and every time you verb it Shaun Tan messes everything up for me His books don t read like other books His text now that I ve seen it for the first time doesn t bloody read like the text of other people He s not just writing new kinds of stories, but reinventing the very nature of short story collections, personal histories, sketchbooks, suburban metaphors, and on and on they go Would you believe me if I told you that I ve tried several times to cut apart a couple layers of this book for boxing up purposes, only to find myself staring for several minutes at some small detail, font, or turn of phrase on a given page You know what Don t go asking me who this book is for Don t ask me what the age range is, or how you re going to catalog it, or what kind of person you could give it to for a birthday present You want an easy book that slots into your preconceived notions of what constitutes children s literature Well forget it, sister This isn t it Tales from Outer Suburbia is a book for every human being you know, from the age of nine and up It s heartbreaking, and funny, and weird, and smart, and unlike any other book you ve read up until this point in time It s what happens when someone tells you a dream they just had and you end up crying and laughing at the description all at once It s brilliant, and I m inadequate to describe it to you, though I ll do my best to try Okay Rather than go through my standard first paragraph opening, second paragraph description, third and onward paragraph critique, I m going to follow my old pattern, but shake things up a little If you hold a copy of Tales from Outer Suburbia in your hand you ll see that it s just 96 pages or so long A relatively thin book, but the language is advanced than your average early chapter book The endpapers are tiny sketches Tons of them But I ll get to those later The Table of Contents shows a range of tiny stamps on a brown paper package, each one with the title of its chapter writ small And then you get to the stories themselves and it s about here that I start to break down I mean, do you want the general gist of what you ll find here In brief, each tale takes place to some extent in suburbia Where people have lawns and bus stops and playgrounds But it s a suburbia where the peculiar is almost commonplace though anything that shakes up the neighbors takes on a special glow There are tales of water buffalos, rescued turtles, marriage quests, and a single nameless holiday It s the stuff that crawls around in your head when you re half asleep, and you could maybe even chalk it all up to subconscious ramblings if the stories didn t make so much sense and didn t linger in your head for quite so long It doesn t quite do to pick this book apart, but I really can t resist doing so And I m sure I m not the only one The most obvious thing to compare to this, if comparisons are something we have to make, is The Twilight Zone The last time suburbia got this skewered with the unknown, it was in that post war Rod Serling era Maybe history repeats itself Maybe our new era with our new president and our new hope in the American dream means that suburbia will once again take on those mythic qualities it was once thought to have In the past Shaun Tan has said that the notion of suburban communities has always fascinated , why not Suburbia is a state of safety and collective agreement that can go terribly wrong when left to its own devices There s a kind of insanity to it, and Tan has very delicately placed a finger on that insanity s pulse He will give you a sense of it, but you will never quite see the whole And there is only one story in this collection that I read over and over and over and over again, trying to make sense of what I d just experienced It s a story that sounds like a Ray Bradbury tale Thinking about it, Bradbury s suburban science fiction is like an older, darker brother of Tan s Both enter the impossible into the seemingly mundane, but when Bradbury did it you were sometimes left feeling contented or chilled In comparison, even the happiest story in Tan s collection has a bittersweet aftertaste to it The Make Your Own Pet sequence is a good example of this But in one case Tan veers dead on into Bradbury territory The Amnesia Machine demands that you read it yourself, so I will simply say that of all the tales here, it was the only one that left me feeling a bit chilled Essentially, if you need a story for a bookgroup discussion, and I include all ages in that statement, this here s your best bet It is significant, don t you think, that I ve not really mentioned Tan s art up until this point Anyone who read The Arrival cover to cover would know that as an artist Tan is without compare Of course, The Arrival didn t really give the man a chance to explore his range It was sort of an all sepia, all the time showing There s nothing wrong with that, but one of the reasons I like Tales so much in comparison is that it really allows Mr Tan a chance to bust a move when he feels like it As a result you have the woodblock scratchboard technique of The Nameless Holiday alongside the Chris Van Allsburg like use of mixed media and graphite in The Amnesia Machine He employs a distinctly Japanese inspired painting technique for Broken Toys whereas Alert But Not Alarmed uses bold colors to display light when it s directly above your head in the middle of the day And I could on naming the other techniques or cooing over his use of light he really is quite good with it but it s all for naught unless you see it for yourself Which you should You really should And for the record I m glad the publisher didn t go the crazy route and get tactile with this book I like seeing little stamps in lieu of chapters in the Table of Contents, but I wouldn t actually want to be able to pluck them out There s sense behind the design here And now we go about dedicating one whole paragraph to the endpapers Now, I don t actually know the story behind Tales of Outer Suburbia but it seems pretty clear to me that these stories didn t happen overnight Some of them probably were written and drawn over the course of several years In the Advanced Readers Galley I cannot vouch for the final copy you will find that in Make Your Own Pet , in the lower right hand corner of the second page is the faintest possible white ink reading Tan 2001 Now look at the endpapapers of this book Aren t they beautiful They look like Mr Tan s sketchbook A place where he randomly included any tiny thought or idea that popped into his head A couple of the critters here made it into the book too There s Eric in both the front and the back of the book There s the mouthless creature that sports a single huge lashless eye There s what looks like one of the rabbits from the book he did with John Marsden called The Rabbits And there s that snakey dragon tail so prominent at the beginning of The Arrival You re left wondering if this is from his actual sketchbook Did he write a story for every image here Could someone else I like to imagine a classroom somewhere where a teacher hands this book to the students and encourages them to write a short story to accompany one of the hundreds of tiny pictures found here I know which one I d do It would be the picture of a grumpy old man with a cheery, possibly caped, sprite on his shoulder that cries out, Carpe diem When The Arrival came out it was unmistakably brilliant but caused some people no end of trouble Where do you put it Is it a children s book Is it for teens Adults Bookstores were baffled beyond belief Libraries just cataloged him as everything and threw his books up willy nilly on their shelves Because it is a much quieter book than The Arrival and can t glom onto an existing community like the graphic novel advocates, my suspicion is that Tales from Outer Suburbia will make a relatively smaller splash This is not to say that the book is any less inventive If I wanted to I could write a review where I carefully and closely examined each and every story here piece by piece Tempt me not There are only so many hours in the day, and I should let you find the other remaining surprises on your own I hope this book reaches as many kids, teens, and adults as possible After all these words I still don t think I m the right reviewer for it But if I can make anyone even slightly curious about its content then I m happy Inadequate, sure, but content.Ages 9 and up.


  7. says:

    This is a different story for Shaun Tan He has a lot of words in this one There are 15 short stories in this collection Each, a little vignette Shaun Tan sees the world differently and he has an artistic gift to share it with the world His stories always create a mood and encourage us to think about something a little differently or deeper It is an amazing gift he has I love the little story of Eric The little figure reminds me of another story about Eric I wonder if someone else took the character and made a story with him I can t put my finger on what the story was I love the last page of that story There is only one picture for Broken Toys and that was an interesting story Check it out Grandpa s Story was cool It s about what the wedding ritual used to be back when it was tough to get married What a brilliant idea the Other Country is What if there was a secret room in your home that lead to a whole huge world all your own This is one of my favorites Those were my favorite stories of the collection, but I have enjoyed reading and looking at the art of this book It has been a great experience Shaun Tan does not disappoint More, MOre.


  8. says:

    Shaun Tan s books are surreal, they are magic Maybe his imagination starts where ours end I fell for his books after reading The Arrival That had only pictures telling you stories But this one has pictures and some little stories, too There is a part in this book where he said that people often write down their untold feelings on paper and keep them hidden Those can be in forms of poem or can be just some simple words That part is so beautiful and true that almost made me cry Well, for me, it lacked the steadiness a little which can easily be found in The Arrival But the creativity of the illustrations and stories has covered up this tiny little flaw without any doubt So 5 stars it is Shaun Tan has just grabbed a place in my most favorite authors list Looking forward to read all of his books, ALL P.S I don t think it falls into children category Nope, Nah, Nein


  9. says:

    You are now checking out of the libraryStunning, poetic, beautiful tell me a synonym that hasn t already been used to describe Outer Suburbia, with its kindly monsters, strangers in diving suits, and bewildered people searching for their purpose It s only absurd on the outside Shaun Tan is an artistic genius I have no idea how he does it, it s a secret known only to the little dream creatures, but somehow he takes a simple, strange idea One idea And turns it into something that is relatable and honest as it is magical and lucid dreamlike.Most people that are not covert androids have felt the themes at work here, beneath the oddities paranoia and fear, acceptance, determination, the need for escape, the right thing vs the safe thing to do, loss and finding our way back, and of course curiosity.All in one convenient, marvelous novelty box which will never stop making you ask questions about it.


  10. says:

    Extremely beautiful Leaves you with a pretty clear feeling of why and how love, poetry and understanding are basically the same thing Although to leave cannot be less appropriate for a book that so much stays with you Read it 10 times and 10 times fell in love.