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The Lost Thing

Shaun Tan describes how each book isn't written specifically for children, but a more general audience, he views "each book as an experiment in visual and written narrative." When you know this much thought, intelligence and talent has gone in to producing a picture book high expectations of The Lost Thing will not only be expected, but they will also be fulfilled.

Attention to detail is an understatement, not an inch of this book is wasted. The back drop on each page are random pages from old engineering books, fitting in with the mechanical world of our protagonist.

The Lost Thing is set in a futuristic world, a cold world with no place for lost things.  Our main character finds a lost thing - hmm, could be described as a big red pot with octopus type legs and a number of doors ...

"It was quite friendly though, once I started talking to it."

He tries everywhere and everyone to find a home for the lost thing - nobody is interested, 'nobody was very helpful.' Even his parents, when they finally notice its presence, have no real interest in the lost thing.

Eventually he is mysteriously directed to a place where 'none of the things really belonged,' however 'they all seemed happy enough' and so a home is found as the lost thing makes 'an approving sort of noise.'

Layers of meaning, handwritten font style .. the visual appeal of this book is immediate, the engaging storyline and the talent of Shaun Tan mean this will be a picture book to return to again and again - with its message for the young and the old.

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The Essentials

Author
Illustrator
Publisher Blurb
A boy discovers a bizarre-looking creature while out collecting bottle-tops at a beach. Having guessed that it is lost, he tries to find out who owns it or where it belongs, but the problem is met with indifference by everyone else, who barely notice its presence. Each is unhelpful in their own way; strangers, friends, parents are all unwilling to entertain this uninvited interruption to day-to-day life. In spite of his better judgement, the boy feels sorry for this hapless creature, and attempts to find out where it belongs.

The Lost Thing received an Honourable Mention at the Bologna International Book Fair, Italy, was named an Honour Book at the CBCA Awards, won an Aurealis Award and a Spectrum Award for illustration in the United States. Original illustrations from the book were exhibited at the Itabashi Art Museum in Tokyo.

Nitty Gritty

Format
Paperback
Pages
32
Publisher
ISBN
9780734411389

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The Lost Thing 2012-05-10 21:23:40 Jodie
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4.0
Reviewed by Jodie    May 11, 2012

Making the uncomfortable comfortable

Shaun Tan has a way of making the uncomfortable comfortable - through his words, yes, but perhaps more strongly through his illustrations. The Lost Thing does just this around the discomfort ones feels when one is lost and the effort others make to help the lost thing be found once again. A story that will resonate with anyone who has felt lost whether physically or emotionally (perhaps lost in bureaucracy which seems to feature in the book) and known the value of someone who has taken the time to help one find themselves again.

Love Shaun's work - it is so out of the ordinary and really resonates in the week the world has lost M. Sendak - thanks for the out of the ordinary ones!

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