The Academy Award nominated short film “The Lost Thing” has found its way into a new book by author and illustrator Shaun Tan. The New York Times bestselling author presents a collection of three short stories in Lost & Found that include: “The Red Tree,” “The Lost Thing,” and John Marsden’s “The Rabbits.” This book, recently published in America by Scholastic, also contains new artwork and author’s notes.
All three of these tales are brilliantly illustrated with a dark, industrial, steam-punk edge. They are graphically overwhelming and visually stimulating at the same time. With each page there is so much to see and absorb.
The stories themselves are thought-provoking with an uncomfortable familiarity: exposing the harshness of reality and the flaws of society. They are modern day tales in a style that is reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm, lacking in a “happily ever after.”
Despite its simplicity the first of these illustrated stories, “The Red Tree,” is a powerful journey through depression. A girl is almost overcome with depression when she at last finds a bright spot in the darkness.
In “The Lost Thing,” a boy finds a strange object that doesn’t seem to belong anywhere or to anyone. He doesn’t understand how such a large object somehow goes unnoticed. The boy eventually finds a home for the lost thing where it seems to be happy although it both fits and doesn’t quite fit. As the story continues the boy grows up, becoming one of the many drones of society that are so focused they fail to notice what is around them.
Written independently by John Marsden (but illustrated by Shaun Tan), the third tale, “The Rabbits,” explores the displacement of indigenous people. In this tale a group of peaceful creatures encounter new arrivals to their lands. While friendly at first, the invading rabbits soon turned hostile, taking everything from the poor native creatures and driving them from their home and lands.
This graphic novel will not appeal to everyone. Its stories and illustrations are too complex to be summed up as I liked or didn’t like it. I found it sometimes dark and unsettling yet always thought-provoking.
While each of these stories is quite different, they are all visually engaging and tied together by a sense of loss and discovery: feeling lost in the world and finding your way again; finding something unusual and then growing up and losing your childhood imagination and the ability to be open to such things; the great loss to the environment when technology takes over and a hope for an end to the destruction.
Visit for more information about Shaun Tan visit shauntan.net
Watch the trailer for The Lost Thing at www.youtube.com/watch?v=kikA9pUAnWs
The opinions expressed in this review are those of the author, who, aside from the complimentary review copy of the book cited, was not compensated for this review.
Cate Burke is the very busy (but very lucky) mother of 2-year-old boy/girl twins. Happily married for 10 years, this California girl now lives in Iowa, where she freelances as an independent marketing consultant. She is an avid reader (when time permits) and has a professional background in marketing and public relations for non-profit organizations.