by John Marsden & Shaun Tan
Brookline Booksmith has long been one of my favorite bookstores, and their latest bit of book display strategy is the sort of thing that helps explain why: they set up a Kids Books for Adults section.
So I now I have another Shaun Tan book. His work, which I’ve reviewed before (The Red Tree, The Lost Thing) is stunning. His pictures provide the first-gasp oh experience as well as delights that come with careful discovery. Page after page reveals rich visuals comprising surprising and vivid colors, swirls of paint, fingerprints, sharp angles, and soft torn paper edges.
The text is clear and straightforward, with the sort of naked honesty that you can find in good kids books. This is the story of rabbits coming to take over a world and change it into something worse than it was before they arrived. At least that is how the creatures who were there first (and readers) see things. I could also say that it is a story about environmental degradation or a story about colonization — because it is those things too — but I am reluctant to say these things because I don’t want to brand this as a “politically correct” book. It isn’t. It carries a message that is political (or should be, in our world) but it delivers the message with art and grace, not knee-jerk platitudes, quick fixes, or unthinking condemnations.
It ends with a question: “who will save us from the rabbits?” I think that is a good question for adult or child readers of the book to be left with, as the question of “who will save us? or “who will save me?” is one I think everyone has invested some mental energy in, big or small.
Highly recommended. I mean, come on, if you’ve been reading my reviews for any length of time, go buy a Shaun Tan book already, would you?