Shaun Tan describes how each book isn’t written specifically for children, but a more general audience, he views “each book as an experiment in visual and written narrative.” When you know this much thought, intelligence and talent has gone in to producing a picture book high expectations of The Lost Thing will not only be expected, but they will also be fulfilled.
Attention to detail is an understatement, not an inch of this book is wasted. The back drop on each page are random pages from old engineering books, fitting in with the mechanical world of our protagonist.
The Lost Thing is set in a futuristic world, a cold world with no place for lost things. Our main character finds a lost thing – hmm, could be described as a big red pot with octopus type legs and a number of doors …
“It was quite friendly though, once I started talking to it.”
He tries everywhere and everyone to find a home for the lost thing – nobody is interested, ‘nobody was very helpful.’ Even his parents, when they finally notice its presence, have no real interest in the lost thing.
Eventually he is mysteriously directed to a place where ‘none of the things really belonged,’ however ‘they all seemed happy enough’ and so a home is found as the lost thing makes ‘an approving sort of noise.’
Layers of meaning, handwritten font style .. the visual appeal of this book is immediate, the engaging storyline and the talent of Shaun Tan mean this will be a picture book to return to again and again – with its message for the young and the old.