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The Red Tree - Shaun Tan

The Red Tree

By: Shaun Tan

Hardcover | 1 October 2001 | Edition Number 1

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A small child awakes to find blackened leaves falling from her bedroom ceiling, threatening to quietly overwhelm her. 'Sometimes you wake up with nothing to look forward to...' As she wanders around a world that is complex, puzzling and alienating, she is overtaken by a myriad of feelings. Just as it seems all hope is lost, the girl returns to her bedroom to find that a tiny red seedling has grown to fill the room with warm light. Astonishing Perth artist, Shaun Tan's latest creation, The Red Tree, is a book about feelings - feelings that can not always be simply expressed in words. It is a series of imaginary landscapes conjured up by the wizardry of Shaun Tan's masterful and miraculous art. As a kind of fable, The Red Tree seeks to remind us that, though some bad feelings are inevitable, they are always tempered by hope.A small child awakes to find blackened leaves falling from her bedroom ceiling, threatening to quietly overwhelm her. 'Sometimes you wake up with nothing to look forward to...' As she wanders around a world that is complex, puzzling and alienating, she is overtaken by a myriad of feelings. Just as it seems all hope is lost, the girl returns to her bedroom to find that a tiny red seedling has grown to fill the room with warm light. Astonishing Perth artist, Shaun Tan's latest creation, The Red Tree, is a book about feelings - feelings that can not always be simply expressed in words. It is a series of imaginary landscapes conjured up by the wizardry of Shaun Tan's masterful and miraculous art. As a kind of fable, The Red Tree seeks to remind us that, though some bad feelings are inevitable, they are always tempered by hope.

Industry Reviews
Tan, who won the Best Artist Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2001, creates an unusual work for the very young that illuminates a dark side too often ignored or unacknowledged in children. A little red-haired girl wakens in her room one morning, "sometimes the day begins / with nothing to look forward to / and things go from bad to worse" Dry leaves that look like spiders are falling in her room, and in the gloomy outside, a huge fish looms over her head. There's a whole page of "sometimes you wait" as we see her counting aimlessly on a surface that becomes a snail's shell. As she wonders, and wanders, the world is very big and complicated. She returns to her room at the end of the day, and the small red leaf framed above her bed sprouts so that on the floor of her room, a red tree appears. Her idea? Her self? Her dreams? Who knows? And it doesn't matter. The images are obsessively detailed and full of surreal juxtapositions, and the child, who appears in a tiny boat, trapped in a bottle, and in various Bosch-inspired landscapes, lifts her head and smiles only on the last page, when she sees that flame-colored tree. An imaginative, sad, and ultimately uplifting tale of very few words and extraordinary images. (Picture book. 5-9) (Kirkus Reviews)

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