Category Archives: Arthur A Levine Books

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

Title: Rules of Summer
Author: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
ISBN: 978-0545639125
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Books
Pages: 48
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

I remember when I first read Shaun Tan. It was the book Arrival and it was without words. Pictures said it all and there was really no need for words. I also remember loving that book to the hilt and recommending it to one and all. It spoke of the immigrant status so well and brought up so many issues without saying anything at all. I then chanced upon “Rules of Summer” last year and the publisher Scholastic was kind enough to send me a copy. It is a different story that I only read it this year and loved it to bits, as expected.

“Rules of summer” is a coming of age story, but told in such a weird manner that only Shaun Tan can. Rules of summer are the ones that can be made up by your older brother and you have to follow them all through summer. It is the kind of rules that border into fantasy from reality and that’s how they should be. I used to think that some books of Shaun Tan aren’t meant for children and rightly so but this one is out and out a children’s books and brilliant at that.

The words are perfect for a six-year old and above and the illustrations are magnificent and extremely imaginative. The rules are sinister but go with the story and it is most certainly about terrains that are forbidden for children but they go there anyway. Shaun Tan’s illustrations are out of this world. I must say this again because they must be given more than their due. And as you go along adding up the rules to the pictures, the book makes perfect sense at the end. A book not just for kids but adults as well. One of those reads that will enter your dreams.

Book Review: The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Title: The Arrival
Author: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Arthur A Levine Books
ISBN: 978-0439895293
Genre: Picture Book
Pages: 128
Source: Library
Rating: 5/5

How do you review a book which is all about pictures? It is easier to review it you might think. Even I thought so. But here I am, trying to search for words to review a book that had not a single word in it but was full of emotion and a great story to tell. The Arrival by Shaun Tan is one such book and trust me when I say that beautiful doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The Arrival is a story told in pictures and nothing else. Come to think of it, nothing else is needed sometimes to tell a story but pictures. Words but after all are secondary to emotions and if emotions can do the job, then really why speak at all? The Arrival is a story of the “immigrant experience”. There are some books that grab you by the throat and some that change the way you think, while there are others who instantly shock and awe you. The Arrival belongs to the last category. I have never read anything like this book that in essence places the reader so perfectly in the shoes of an outsider, trying to fit in and be a part of the new world, so to speak.

Shaun Tan is an illustrator to start with and what an illustrator that man is. Shaun Tan has created a world that is not only strange to us but also the protagonist. A man leaves his home for the new world. The assumption is to make money. Once he arrives in the strange world, he cannot help but be in awe of it. Everything is different. From pets (with strange tails and ways and resemble cats and dogs and butterflies and pigeons) to language to mode of transportation and the way they live in cone-shaped structures to what they eat. Here the man meets other immigrants and knows of their stories of escape and how they arrived in this land. Amidst all this, he learns more about this land and grows to love the tadpole like creature that follows him everywhere (almost like a dog). Towards the end, his family has arrived and we see how they have grown to love the city and be a part of it.

For me the beauty of the book lay in the pictures. Having said that, with every page I turned, I was fascinated by the author’s thought-process. What must have gone through the illustrator’s mind to tell a story like that? A story so fantastically real, and depicting the universal emotion of facing something strange or new. The book is remarkable and I was in total awe of it. The images are not difficult to decipher – they make you stop and wonder about how the imagery must have formed in the illustrator’s mind and with such lucidity it is put on paper.

The Arrival has been one of the best books I have experienced this year. I say experienced because there is no other way to describe it. The book takes you on a different plane. It is beyond words and thank god for it. Because there are times when you do not need words to tell everything. The Arrival is a book with a soul. Read it and experience it.

Here is a video created on the book in parts:

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