I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I wasn’t expecting it to be all pictures and no words; not to say that detracted from the book. This was actually a wonderful and thought provoking book, and it was better for its lack of words. Without language as a barrier I think anyone from any culture could get some understanding from this book. In the epilogue it mentions that Tan spent 4 years researching all of the drawings and stories that made up this book and it shows.
This book depicts the story of a man who leaves his family to travel to a fantastical alien place. He is trying to find work at that place, and have many of the problems you would expect of a person plopped into an alien society.
The pictures in the book are beautiful and the land the man visits truly fantastic. Despite all the alien-ness of the place though you see the main character gong through many troubles that any immigrant goes through. The book is surprisingly griping and you really feel for the characters. Even more surprising are the little bits of humor throughout, they make the book even more human.
To add depth to the story a number of the characters that the main character bumps into also have their back-stories depicted. It really is proving a point about how people end up in the beautiful alien world and what they’ve suffered to get there.
So I liked this book on a number of levels. All by itself it is an interesting story depicted with beautiful pictures; a tale of a journey to a far away land. On another level it makes a statement about immigration and what people who immigrate to a new world have suffered through and continue to suffer. The story is by no means depressing through, it is humorous and heartfelt. The lack of words makes it enjoyable to all ages. My 2 year enjoyed looking through it with me (although I don’t think he got as much out of it as I did) he found the different worlds interesting and had lots of questions to ask about the characters. Believe or not he made it through the whole thing with me.
I got this from the library but I will definitely be acquiring a copy to keep in my library. I will definitely be checking out more of Shaun Tan’s works.