Rules of Summer

by Shaun Tan

Shuan Tan’s imagination always harbors a rich and arresting world of possibilities.... read more

Shuan Tan’s imagination always harbors a rich and arresting world of possibilities. Here the wild and the extraordinary is found in paintings accompanying a simple, straightforward narrative in which a young boy states the things he learned last summer. “Never leave a red sock on the clothesline.” The accompanying illustration shows the boy and his brother huddled against a stark fence in an uninviting urban landscape. The single red sock on the clothesline, small and unassuming in the foreground, has attracted (one assumes) the giant, menacing, red rabbit-like creature that lurks on the other side of the fence. “Never argue with an umpire.” Especially, one gathers, when the umpire is your big brother, never mind the mechanical creature that is your opponent. There is both tension and whimsy in the relationship between what is stated and what is shown. A brief, wordless series of page spreads in the middle, preceded by “Never wait for an apology” and followed by “Always bring bolt cutters” underscores the slightly ominous yet playful feel of the entire volume. Is it all meant to be real? Surreal? Symbolic? The beauty is that it’s up to each individual reader of the words and images to decide. (Ages 9–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015

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