Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan.
From the back cover: “Do you remember the water buffalo at the end of our street? Or the deep-sea diver we found near the underpass? Do you know why dogs bark in the middle of the night? Shaun Tan, creator of The Arrival, The Lost Thing and The Red Tree, reveals the quiet mysteries of everyday life: homemade pets, dangerous weddings, stranded sea mammals, tiny exchange students and secret rooms filled with darkness and delight.”
The cover of this book beckoned me from across the library one day and – I know I should be ashamed to admit this, but I’m not, or rather I’m mostly unashamed, but still a little ashamed, as with most things, come to think of it, since that’s just the way I am – I almost ignored it since I thought it was a graphic novel. Yes, yes, I know graphic novels are the way of the future and so awesome and revolutionary and whatever. Stop hounding me about how great graphic novels are. I don’t get the appeal, okay? Call me old (true) and inflexible (true) and a snob (somehow also true, despite my shame), but I have zero desire to read a graphic novel. (And don’t get me started on graphic novel versions of the classics because I will become truly unpleasant. What is wrong with WORDS? Words as they were written?)
In any case, I don’t need to rant about Tales from Outer Suburbia because it is a lavishly illustrated book of very short stories, not a graphic novel. It’s a picture book for adults, say. (Not those kinds of pictures for adults. I know where your lecherous mind went.) It would be perfectly suitable for kids and teens too, with its intriguing mix of the poignant and the absurd.
The illustrations are fantastic and I suggest you check out Shaun Tan’s website for samples of his work. Seriously, his talent and creativity make me want to barf. Life is so, so unfair.
Tales from Outer Suburbia: Highly recommended.