Shaun Tan’s books are a wonderment for the senses. In Rules of Summer he combines 25 original oil paintings with a small string of words which leave the reader with a thin story which begs to be filled out by repeated viewings of the accompanying art work.
The story line centers on two boys. We aren’t informed if they are brothers or friends, but we do witness them protecting each other and trying to learn from their experiences. Although there is a menacing premise to some of the paintings (for example: a group of wide-eyed crows seemingly ready for attack, a bedroom overtaken by lizards and jungle), the overall tone of the book is one of excitement and friendship.
Rules of Summer isn’t a title that tells a moralistic tale or that has its characters take a specific journey, it is an experience book. With large picture book format and lush illustrations it is a title that begs for discussions which will have no right or wrong answers, only ideas, creativity and inspiration.
There are excellent video discussions with Shaun Tan about his inspirations, techniques and more on his website: http://www.rulesofsummer.com.au/#!home
Fun Fact: Shaun Tan is no stranger to accolades. He has won numerous awards for his books and in 2011 won an Academy Award for his animated film The Lost Thing.
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars