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The Last Goodbye - Yuan Pan

The Last Goodbye

By: Yuan Pan

Hardcover | 1 May 2015

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The Last Goodbye is a semi-autobiographical, children's picture book, for all ages, that tells a story about loss and offers a nostalgic reminiscence of childhood told using richly illustrated charcoal drawings that have been reproduced in a deep sepia tone. The son sets off for boarding school over the years and later makes the long trip overseas to begin his career. Whether at the bus stop or at the airport, his father is always there to see him off on his journeys. When the son realizes he should spend more time with his father, he finds his father very ill and misses the opportunity to bid his father a final goodbye.

Images of the orchid served as a visual metaphor for the transformation of the father, from how his son remembers him while growing up to the sad discovery that his father is no longer there to greet him. A surrealistic approach is applied on some pages to reflect the sentimental, bittersweet mood of the story, while the emphasis is placed on storytelling and the passage of time.

The inspiration for this book includes the wordless books by Frans Masereel and Lynd Ward from the early 20th century, the montage theory of early Soviet filmmakers Sergei Eisenstein and Lev Kuleshov, as well as the American artist Keith Smith's very influential book The Structure of the Visual Book.

In the arttist's own words: "I love visual storytelling and its process of unfolding meanings and emotions through the passage of time. By selecting and composing each moment, we can turn the most mundane events into memorable experiences. Connections made through the juxtaposition of images creates visual rhythm, expresses ideas, and tells stories."

The Last Goodbye was chosen by an international jury as one of the eight finalists at the Silent Book Contest of the Bologna Children's Book Fair in 2014, and was exhibited in Montereggio di Mulazzo and then in Milan, Italy.

Industry Reviews
The Last Goodbye was chosen by an international jury as one of the eight finalists at the Silent Book Contest of the Bologna Children's Book Fair in 2014, and was exhibited in Montereggio di Mulazzo and then in Milan, Italy. -- Bologna Children's Book Fair
The Last Goodbye is a stunning, wordless picture book for children, adults, art students and collectors. The gorgeous book has a potential audience in the hospice community where caregivers, such as myself, will find it a useful tool for communication around the often difficult subject of death and dying. -- Claire Willis, author of Lasting Words: A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life
An artist makes his children's book debut with a wordless tale about losing a parent that delivers an emotional wallop. The artist uses panoramic and close-up views in sepia tones to convey the passage of time. A landscape view of clustered rooftops places readers in China. A quartet of scenes shows father and son preparing a simple meal, chopping and stirring, then sitting together at a wooden table, eating with chopsticks. The father sees his son to the bus stop, then waves goodbye, as the young man watches through the bus's rear window. Pan brilliantly telegraphs the passage of time by repeating the father's wave in all seasons, in a suite of four views that stretch across the center of a double-page spread. His art calls to mind Shaun Tan's work in The Arrival as the son, now a man, travels overseas by plane to an alien land of staircases with mysterious endpoints and serpentine highways. A quartet of images of a single tree through the four seasons creates a visual resonance with the father's farewell wave in the previous four-part suite. And then, a late-night phone call summons the son home, over the clustered rooftops, to his bedridden father. Pan's paring back to the barest of images and his careful use of repetition create layers of complexity. The father's constant presence results in Pan's delivery of an emotional wallop when his hero must face the man's absence. Readers will eagerly anticipate the next project from this talented artist and storyteller. -- Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

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