This collection of three stories by Tan which were previously published in Australia as separate stories combine to create an incredible experience. Tan wrote two of the stories himself and did the art for all three. The three stories are unique and different, though they are all about loneliness, discovering what is right in front of us, and unexpected beauty.
The Red Tree tells the story of a woman trapped in darkness, though if you look closely you will see a sign of hope that continues through the images. The illustrations are filled with large urban buildings, strange mechanical beings, and empty curving landscapes. Until finally, the red tree is found where you least expect it.
The Lost Thing is the story of a man who discovers something strange on the beach. It was something odd, unusual and completely out of place. The man searches for where the lost thing belongs, eventually taking it home with him and figuring out what it eats. But this is not a story of a lost and new pet. It is a story of secret places, unusual beings, and discovering what you were once blind to.
The Rabbits is a story written by John Marsden, who is also from Australia. The story takes a look at the colonization of Australia through the story of the rabbits entering and taking over the continent. Marsden and Tan create a story that tells the tale of take over, theft and oppression through animals, at once making it a story that can be told clearly and coolly but also one that echoes with tragedy on a larger scale. For me, this was the story in the book that resonated and continues to linger.
Tan pays close attention to details throughout the book. The transitional pages between the stories create a unified feel to the book, tying the stories together as if they are hand-in-hand. The effect of the three stories is one of uniqueness and universal themes.
Beautifully created, these stories are a treasure for graphic novel fans who will find out that graphic novels can be artistic, deep, compassionate and amazing. Appropriate for ages 12-15.
Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.
Also reviewed by: