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The Red Tree - Shaun Tan

Hardcover Published: October 2001
ISBN: 9780734401724
Number Of Pages: 48
For Ages: 5+ years old

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A small child awakes to find blackened leaves falling from her bedroom ceiling, threatening to quietly overwhelm her. As she wanders around a world that is complex and alienating, she is overtaken by a myriad of feelings. Just as it seems all hope is lost, the girl finds that a red seedling has filled the room with light.

About the Author

Shaun Tan has an outstanding reputation for his illustrative work. He won the Spectrum Gold Award for Book Illustration 2000 and also the Crichton Award (The Viewer) in 1995. The Rabbits, written by John Marsden, was named CBCA Book of the Year and received the Aurealis Governor's Award in 1999; and Memorial, written by Gary Crew, was a CBCA Honour Book and also won an APA Design Award in 2000. He wrote and illustrated The Lost Thing, published in 2000. He has been a leading science-fiction illustrator in Australia for several years; with recognition including the illustrators of the Future Award 1991 and the Australian National Science Fiction Best Artist Award 1995, 1996. The Red Tree is his fifth picture book.

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)

ISBN: 9780734401724
ISBN-10: 0734401728
Audience: Children
For Ages: 5+ years old
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 48
Published: October 2001
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 31.6 x 24.2  x 0.9
Weight (kg): 0.46
Edition Number: 1

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Shaun Tan

About the Author


Shaun Tan grew up in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. In school he became known as the 'good drawer' which partly compensated for always being the shortest kid in every class. He graduated from the University of WA in 1995 with joint honours in Fine Arts and English Literature, and currently works as an artist and author in Melbourne.

Shaun began drawing and painting images for science fiction and horror stories in small-press magazines as a teenager, and has since become best known for illustrated books that deal with social, political and historical subjects through surreal, dream-like imagery. The Rabbits, The Red Tree, Tales from Outer Suburbia, Rules of Summer and the acclaimed wordless novel The Arrival have been widely translated and enjoyed by readers of all ages. Shaun has also worked as a theatre designer, a concept artist for animated films including Pixar's WALL-E, and directed the Academy Award-winning short film The Lost Thing with Passion Pictures Australia. In 2011 he received the presitgious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, honouring his contribution to international children's literature.

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