Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mini-Review: Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

Firstly, thanks to Hachette Children's Books Australia for this copy of Rules of Summer <3

Changing it up a little with this review. I pretty much post only YA reviews, but this is one picture book had to review! Shaun Tan is definitely one of my favourite authors and illustrators and his 2013 release, Rules of Summer is a must for everyone.

Date Read: November 20th 2013
Release Date: July 11th 2013
Publisher: Hachette Children's
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy (Children's picture book)
My rating: 

"Combining humour and surreal fantasy, Shaun Tan pictures a summer in the lives of two boys. Each spread tells of an event and the lesson learned. By turns, these events become darker and more sinister as the boys push their games further and further."


For both the young and old, and everything in between, Tan's picture books are filled with messages that resonate differently with the different age groups that read it. Rules of Summer is no different. Filled with layered messages, each one sentence page holds varying messages depending on how you perceive it. The wild and wonderful illustrations show a different side to the seemingly innocent life lessons for things children (and adults) may get up to during the summer.

I loved the way the story was presented. Tan's meticulous brush strokes show at times haunting images of what happens when you "leave the back door open overnight" or "eat the last olive at party" (the looks people give you!). These colourful depictions are juxtaposed by the simple statements on the left-hand page with their light pencil scribbles on sepia and grey-toned backgrounds. By doing this, plain versus rich, Tan accentuates his gorgeous pictures and never overdoes the images. Such images also allow the reader to interpret his idea the way they want - oh what is that beautiful utopia where I can access all the things I need if only I could remember my password? The similarity I found with Tan's other books was the increasing bleakness the deeper we delved through the book. I love the idea of needing to overcome the dark before we find the light. 

Like his other masterpieces, Tan doesn't disappoint. This is one picture book I will be perusing time and time again for the different messages and hidden things I'll find each time.

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