Lost & Found by Shaun Tan is one of those books that I find so hard to review as Tan’s artwork is just so visually stunning that I’m at a total loss for words on how to describe it. Lost & Found is the first omnibus collection for Tan (at least that I know of) and contains the previously published stories of The Lost Thing, The Red Tree and The Rabbits. The Rabbits is story that was written by John Marsden but drawn by Shaun Tan.
The Lost Thing is a book that I had read previously but it was no less powerful the second time around. Its a story that helps adults remember what it is like to be a child. To have that imagination to accept things that don’t quite fit in and that as an adult you might be quick to dart your eyes over. Its a story that is great for children in helping to reinforce the idea that just because the adults around them can’t always see what they do, doesn’t make it any less real.
The Red Tree is a darker story and one that will probably go over the head of most children. This is definitely a story for adults and one that deals with thoughts and feelings that we’ve all had at one point in time or another. The feeling that the whole world is against you and things just keeping going from bad to worse. But this story isn’t all dark and dreary and I think of the three in this volume that it might be my favorite. The drawings are just so perfect and really set the mood perfectly for what the text is saying.
The final story in this volume is called The Rabbits and I think that it is the saddest one in the whole lot. Its also one of the most powerful as it makes the reader…the adult reader…reflect on humanities past and realize some of the horrors that man has inflected on other men just for the sake of expansion. Its a warning tale to all to always remember that your way may not always be the only way and before you build or dismiss another people you should always try to understand their ways. While children may not initially get the deeper meaning of this story its an important one for them to be exposed to. They are the next generation and while there may not be any new and undiscovered places here on Earth who knows what places or worlds they might be able to explore in the future.
Lost & Found is a short book but its one that you can spend hours on….days or even years. There is just so much detail in each page that you just want to pour over them trying to discover all the secrets that lie within the images. Its a book that you can read over and over and walk away with a different message every time. The drawings are visually stunning and a feast for the eyes. The messages are powerful and ones that will stay with you long after you read them.