Shaun Tan at Seven Stories

Friday, August 26th, 2011

On Wednesday, Older Brother, Little Brother and I had the thrill of hearing this year’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner Shaun Tan speak at Seven Stories in Newcastle, during his whistle-stop visit to the UK. I’ve loved his work since being mesmerised by The Arrival four years ago; and we’ve also had the privilege of featuring Shaun’s work in our PaperTigers Gallery. Shaun’s picture books truly tap into something essential in our existence so that no matter how old you are and whatever your life experience, there is something there for everyone to absorb and distill. His books have had a big impact on the boys too, and it was a real eye-opener for them to meet their creator and hear about the drawn out process and sheer hard work that goes into producing a book. Now we are all desperate to see the Oscar-winning short of The Lost Thing!

Older Brother was most struck by Shaun saying that imperfection was a “very important concept for an artist”; and that he is always aiming for simplicity, because it’s through that apparent simplicity that he can achieve layer upon layer of meaning. Then accompanying the text with unexpected illustrations to create further tensions – but he pointed out that he wouldn’t call his work surreal per se: rather, the unexpected juxtaposition of familiar objects in his work is what is surreal.

Little Brother especially loved the first in Shaun’s series of cartoons depicting a day in his life: Waking to the Sound of a Solitary Cicada – a huge cicada looming in through the open window. He’s still laughing about that (but, as is so often the case with Shaun’s work, for me, the more I think about it, the more the funniness is tempered with a feeling of unease…). Little Brother also came home thinking about the humor and tensions achieved by people/creatures doing extrordinary things as though they are completely normal – like feeding Christmas decorations to a huge, friendly monster-machine aka the Lost Thing. And when Shaun pointed out that, as per the element of the familiar present in all his creations, the Lost Thing is a cross between a dog, a horse and an elephant, yes, you can absolutely see it.

I was bowled over by (more…)

August 2008 Events

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

(Click on event name for more information)

13th Lima International Book Fair~ ongoing until Aug 3, Lima, Peru

19th Annual Children’s Book Fair~ ongoing until Aug 8, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Children Should Be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture-Book Art~ ongoing until Sep 14, Los Angeles, CA, USA

37th Annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Summer Conference~ Aug 1 – 4, Los Angeles, CA, USA

SCBWI Golden Kite Awards Presentations~ Aug 3, Los Angeles, CA, USA

37th Annual IASL Conference: World Class Learning and Literacy through School Libraries~ Aug 3 – 7, Berkeley, CA, USA

8th Annual Nueva Paquime Festival~ Aug 3 – 12, Paquime, Mexico

Kazakhstan Reading Association Conference~ Aug 8 – 10, Astana, Kazakhstan

Edinburgh International Book Festival~ Aug 9 – 25, Edinburgh, Scotland

74th IFLA World Library and Information Congress~ Aug 10 – 14, Quebec City, QC, Canada

The Canadian Book Camp~ Aug 11 – 15, Vancouver, BC, Canada

CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Award Winners Announced~ Aug 15, Melbourne, Australia

Crichton Award for New Illustrators Winner Announced~ Aug 15, Melbourne, Australia

Children’s Book Week~ Aug 16 – 22, Australia

Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre Open House~ Aug 17, Fremantle, Australia

LIANZA Children’s Book Award Winners Announced~ Aug 18, New Zealand

Library Week~ Aug 18 – 24, New Zealand

Melbourne Writers Festival~ Aug 22 – 31, Melbourne, Australia

Singapore International Storytelling Festival~ Aug 25 – Sep 9, Singapore

Timpanogos Storytelling Festival~ Aug 28 – 30, Orem, UT, USA

National Poetry Week~ Aug 29 – Sep 7, Australia

Queens Book Fair~ Aug 30, Jamaica, NY, USA