Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

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Shortlisted for the 2015 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal This is a large-format picture book about the relationship between two young boys, whose friendship is tested by a many challenging situations. It's a story without any particular narrative, just a list of of mysterious rules such as 'Never step on a snail', 'Never argue with an umpire', 'Never leave the back door open overnight' or 'Never leave a red sock on the clothesline'. As each rule is broken – not always by accident – surprising consequences ensue, and readers are invited to decide for themselves what is really happening, and why.


Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

Shortlisted for the 2015 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 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.


The multi-layered illustrations are glorious... this is a strange, thought-provoking and enlightening book. Irish Independent Pure magic... told with minimal text and the beautiful surreal imagery of Tan's paintings. I would be quite happy to give this book ten stars out of five if that were allowed. Simply unmissable for readers who seek out unique and thought provoking books. When the children outgrow this, I will be keeping it for myself. * * * * * Bookbag A mesmerising addition to Shaun Tan's eclectic array of thoughtful and surreal picture books... breathtaking. WRD Magazine Shaun Tan has earned the reputation as the creator of picture books that defy easy interpretation... enigmatic verbal and visual clues to construct narratives... lovingly detailed painterly illustration... starkly realistic and elusively surreal. Irish Times Shaun Tan continues to push out the boundaries of the picturebook medium... whichever way you look at it, this is an extraordinary picturebook, an aesthetic abject, with much to enjoy, respond to, think and talk about. School Librarian Visually fascinating. The New York Times Tan's mesmerizing, gorgeous art is as beautiful and entrancing as ever. Booklist Superb artwork that elicits both a cerebral and emotional response and that, when coupled with the text, invites readers to plumb the mysterious depths of the human experience. The Horn Book Thrilling... one startling image after another. Wall Street Journal Evocative, enthralling and with absolutely astounding artwork. Kirkus Sumptuous and sincere... this title is a winner. School Library Journal Brilliant... as always, the swirl of emotion that Tan's artwork kicks up lingers long after the book is closed. Publishers Weekly Magnificent. Big, confident and blazing with colour. Sydney Morning Herald Beguiling, magical, vivid, sumptuous. Tan's open-ended tales invariably suggest possibilities beyond the frame, creating an imaginative space for readers to inhabit the stories. The Australian

About the Author

Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan was born in 1974 and grew up in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. In school he became known as the “good drawer” which partly compensated for always being the shortest kid in every class. He graduated from the University of WA in 1995 with joint honours in Fine Arts and English Literature, and currently works full time as a freelance artist and author, concentrating mostly on writing and illustrating picture books.

Shaun began drawing and painting images for science fiction and horror stories in small-press magazines as a teenager, and has since then he has received numerous awards for his picture books, including the CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) Picture Book of the Year Award for The Rabbits with John Marsden. In 2001 Shaun was named Best Artist at the World Fantasy Awards in Montreal. He has recently worked for Blue Sky Studios and Pixar, providing concept artwork for forthcoming films.

Shaun Tan on himself and Eric:

“A recurring theme in my sketchbook are characters carrying a suitcase. I’m not sure why. Sometimes it arises because I’ve drawn a character and they look silly standing there without anything in their hands, so I’ll often add a suitcase or a box. This constantly suggested a story. The story ‘Eric’ in Tales from Outer Suburbia was suggested by a similar drawing of a little character with a pointy head and the word Eric written underneath.

I do rarely give names. 'Eric' is an exception, but even then the name is a substitute for something we can’t hear or pronounce properly, so we never know his real name.” (interview with Write Away, 2009)

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Book Info


48 pages


Shaun Tan
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Publication date

7th November 2013




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