Lost & Found by Shaun Tan

"Sometimes the day begins with nothing to look forward to / and things go from bad to worse / darkness overcomes you / nobody understands / the world is a deaf machine / without sense or reason."

This begins The Red Tree, the first of three stories collected in the book, Lost & Found, by author + illustrator, Shaun Tan. The illustrations are evocative, surreal, and emotionally striking, a visual mixtape of tones and images of alienation and isolation that recall the likes of David Lynch, Tim Burton, and Chris Van Allsburg.

I lingered on one richly imagined page for five full minutes, allowing the words, "wonderful things are passing you by," play on repeat in my head as I became the red haired girl in the illustration, locked behind a window, staring out at a flying machine trailed by butterflies and heading toward a crimson sunset through the clouds. The reading experience was both an escape to a strange place as well as a deeply empathetic moment for that feeling of alone-ness and apart-ness from the world. This collision of complex -- and often dissimilar -- human emotions is the brilliance of Shaun Tan's work.

There is more hope in each story than I'm letting on. But it is a hope tempered by the notion that even a happy outcome cannot erase sadness or fill a lingering emptiness. This is a book that both adults and children will feel a powerful connection to, and it will draw readers back to find something that they might not have lost, but have missed without knowing it.


Great blog. The Arrival by Tan is another work of his that is... indescribable. He is awesome.

Nice blog!