Summary and Impressions
The illustrations and story in Tales from Outer Suburbia are out of this world! The creativity and thought that Tan put into the stories shows in the detail work and the cohesiveness of each short story. He tells stories from the point of view of various people and inanimate objects, like the stick figures, and the stories are atypical which makes them fun and appealing. My favorite story in the book was called Distant Rain. This story is the life cycle of bits of paper and old poems that refuse to be thrown away. These rebellious bits of paper slowly collect until the super heavy ball of paper become inexplicably light and floats off into the unknown, only to be rained on, turned into a messy pulp and then, if they hang on, they join a new ball of words. Tan uses a variety of handwriting, typesettings and paper types to tell the story of these lost poems. It is creative and beautiful.
From Kirkus Review
Nameless, ageless, genderless first-person narrators bring readers into offbeat yet recognizable places in this sparkling, mind-bending collection from the creator of The Arrival (2007). In “Our Expedition,” siblings set out to see if anything exists beyond the end of their father’s road map. Dysfunctional parents and the child they ignore are brought together when a dugong appears in their front lawn in “Undertow.” With these and other short stories, Tan brings magic to places where magic rarely happens in books. These are fairy tales for modern times, in which there is valor, love and wisdom—without dragons and castles. The accompanying illustrations vary widely in style, medium and palette, reflecting both the events and the mood of each story, while hewing to a unifying sense of the surreal. In some stories, Tan has replaced the sparse, atmospheric text entirely with pictures, leaving the reader to absorb the stunning visual impact of his imagined universe. Several poems—and a short story—told via collage are included. Graphic-novel and text enthusiasts alike will be drawn to this breathtaking combination of words and images. (Graphic anthology. 12 & up)
I would like use this collection of Manga stories to introduce students to creative writing. In the exercise, I would read a story or two, first. Then, I would have the students select 2 words at random from a cup (printed before hand) and one item of random objects in a box. Using these 3 items, I would have the students write a short story tying them together in a creative way and then illustrating their story. This could be used in a writing class or an art class.
Tan, S. (2008). Tales from Outer Suburbia. New York: Scholastic.
Unknown. (2009, January 1). Tales from Outer Suburbia Review. Retrieved May 8, 2011, from Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/childrens-books/shaun-tan/tales-from-outer-suburbia/?spdy=2009