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Review: Tales From Outer Suburbia

May 15, 2010

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan is a short story collection for the middle-grade and young adult market and it is simply delightful!   I don’t read a lot of fantasy or short stories, but I loved the stories in this book.

My favorite of all the stories is alert but not alarmed.  In this story, everyone in the country is given an intercontinental ballistic missile in order to uphold national security.  At first people were excited and committed, but after several years of simple maintenance on the missiles (painting them and checking the oil) people have become indifferent toward them.  They paint them with pretty designs, decorate them for Christmas and use them for other, practical things.  After all of this, the people know that the missiles might not work if they’re ever needed, but they’re okay with that, because they hope that families in other parts of the world have found a much better use for their missiles too.  Even though this story was only a few pages, it gave me a lot to think about.

I love everything about Tales from Outer Suburbia from the beautiful embossed cover, to the wonderful endpapers, to the high quality paper, to the gorgeous illustrations.   I cannot say enough about the beauty of Tan’s pictures – they are so lovely that I lingered over them, trying to absorb some of their detail.  You really should go to Tan’s site to gaze at his illustrations.  This one is from alert but not alarmed:

Tales from Outer Suburbia was my first experience with Shaun Tan’s work, but it certainly won’t be my last!  In case you can’t tell, I think this book is fantastic and I highly recommend it!

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Tundra Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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35 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2010 5:52 am

    I’m glad to hear you loved this! I’ve yet to read it, but I’ve read two of Tan’s books and they were absolutely amazing too.

  2. May 15, 2010 6:56 am

    Sounds like a powerful book with some great messages. I’m not familiar with the author but I definitely want to check out his work.

  3. May 15, 2010 6:58 am

    I am in love with Tan! I have Tales from Outer Suburbia here, but like Nymeth, I haven’t read it yet. His artwork is simply amazing.

  4. May 15, 2010 8:30 am

    Both my daughters are big Tan fans! The Arrivaland The Rabbits are favourites in our house. Thanks for link and the review, will definitely be on the lookout for this one.

  5. May 15, 2010 8:48 am

    Wow, this sounds great!


  6. May 15, 2010 9:46 am

    This sounds like a fun read; thanks Kathy

  7. May 15, 2010 10:09 am

    So far I’ve lived vicariously through everyone’s Tan’s posts. Someday I really need to look at those gorgeous pics up close and personal!

  8. May 15, 2010 11:12 am

    Our library only has one of Shaun Tan’s books which makes me very sad. I love his illustrations!

  9. May 15, 2010 1:00 pm

    I’ve never read Tan either but I’ve read some great reviews of The Arrival, too. Looks like an author I need to look up.

  10. May 15, 2010 1:05 pm

    Sounds really interesting. I might want to read it. Thanks for your review!

  11. May 15, 2010 1:29 pm

    This is the author Jill (Rhapsody) was telling me about yesterday after I reviewed a graphic novel. She was extolling his amazing illustrations. That’s now two people telling me to find his books. I’ll do it.

  12. May 15, 2010 1:48 pm

    That picture really is touching. A vision of peace surround weapons of mass destruction. This book sounds amazing. I need to give it a try – I’m starting to become friends with short stories.

  13. May 15, 2010 2:43 pm

    I loved this book as well. It’s the only Tan book I’ve read, too. But I just don’t see it as a kid’s book. Some of the stories are just so deep…

  14. May 15, 2010 4:28 pm

    Dazzling illustrations with gorgeous colors! I’d love a copy of this book! 🙂

  15. May 15, 2010 4:59 pm

    This book is too cute. I love the painted missiles. Will we ever do the same in our world??? I wish.

  16. May 15, 2010 7:42 pm

    His artwork is amazing and I spent a week reading The Arrival which has no words!! 😀 I have this one on my TBR list but I may have to move it up a few notches now!!

  17. May 15, 2010 9:58 pm

    The first story… I think it was called eric… was my favorite. I also loved the illustration of the water buffalo.

  18. May 15, 2010 11:04 pm

    I’m glad you like this book! I haven’t read this one yet but luckily my library does have it, so will need to borrow this one soon! This is the first review I’ve seen of this book (mostly I saw reviews of The Arrival). Isn’t his art amazing? Love that his stories are meaningful too!

  19. May 15, 2010 11:05 pm

    These stories sound like a lot of fun! I “read” one of his other books a few weeks ago – The Arrival – which doesn’t have any text, just images.

  20. May 16, 2010 2:27 am

    Enjoyed the review! This sounds like a wonderful collection of stories…and it’s always great to discover a new-to-you author that fits the bill. Happy reading!
    (Thanks for stopping by my site as well….my first time here, but it looks like there’s lots of good reading to be had!)

  21. May 16, 2010 5:16 am

    I’ve not read this one, but I’ve loved The Red Tree and The Arrival is high up on my wishlist.

  22. May 16, 2010 8:28 am

    I adored this book. It’s so magical and original. Tan can do no wrong in my book. You should get The Arrival next. It is just as good and really showcases Tan’s talents.

  23. May 16, 2010 9:08 am

    The illustration you’ve included in this post is beautiful!

  24. May 16, 2010 10:32 am

    😀 I’m so glad you enjoyed this book!! It’s one of my favorites of Tan’s. Absolutely loved it. And I so loved the story you mentioned as well!

  25. May 16, 2010 1:35 pm

    This is one of my favorite books ever! So glad that you enjoyed it!

  26. May 16, 2010 4:26 pm

    I just read Shaun Tan’s The Arrival yesterday and it was beautiful! I’ll look this one up too, I think his pictures are pretty good and tell very good stories.

  27. May 16, 2010 7:54 pm

    It takes a special artist to make ICBMs looks so wonderful and beautiful.

  28. May 16, 2010 8:57 pm

    This sounds like a great collection of stories, Kathy. I especially like the one you shared with us.

  29. May 16, 2010 11:45 pm

    Ooh Shawn Tan – I want to see this one!

  30. May 17, 2010 10:29 am

    Oh, this does sound like a really good read! I liked the story that you highlighted, and think that if the others are anything like it, it would probably be a book I enjoy a lot. Thanks for the great review, Kathy. I am going to be looking for this book!

  31. May 18, 2010 2:11 am

    Our kid book group recently did a session on favorite illustrators, and I have to say these would have been on my list for sure, had I seen them before that meeting. Lovely!

  32. Kathleen permalink
    May 18, 2010 8:44 pm

    When I decided I wanted to read some graphic novels and asked for recommendations this one kept coming up time and time again. I look forward to reading it one of these days!

  33. May 19, 2010 12:29 pm

    I read (and loved) The Arrival by the same author and now want to read everything he’s ever written!

  34. May 19, 2010 2:42 pm

    I’ve taken note of this one. I want my kids (one is a middle schooler, another is finishing middle school) to read more this summer — they tend to slack off during the summer. Short stories (especially well-written ones) hopefully would be a good way to ease them into more reading!

  35. May 31, 2010 1:03 pm

    I really enjoyed this and The Arrival. So glad you have discovered his talent, too!

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