Shaun Tan Wins Astrid Lindgren Award

This morning, I was so happy to learn (via 7imp) ) that Shaun Tan has won the Astrid Lindgren Award prize.

I’ve been a fan of his books and his fine art for a long time and feel fortunate to have seen him speak at the Vancouver Children’s Roundtable event a couple of years ago, where he gave a fascinating and often very funny talk about his books, his work and his, at the time, work in progress on The Lost Thing animated short. At the end he was exceedingly generous with his time, speaking to everyone in the long book signing line, and autographing with little sketches.

He can paint, he can tell a story and he has appeared to have followed his own path and interests with picture books, graphic novels and books that defy regular classification – like the delightful Tales from Outer Suburbia – and that is so wonderful. An award well won.

The books are beautifully illustrated and designed. Have a look at them here, or at your local independent bookstore.
The Lost Thing animated short and The Lost Thing book, both on itunes.
Also, don’t miss Eric, a story from Tales from Outer Suburbia in slideshow format on the Guardian website.

The Lost Thing Animated Short

Back in 2008, I attended an illustrator breakfast hosted by the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable. The guest speaker was Shaun Tan, one of my favourite contemporary illustrators. At that point, The Lost Thing was undergoing a transformation into an animated short. Now, 2 years later, I have come across a post on the Lines and Colours blog about the completion of the short.

It’s lovely to see all of Shaun Tan’s fantastic textures and colours translated so well into animation. And the slouchy movement of the main character feels exactly right. But wow – several years to produce a 15 minute short! Looking at the production drawings it’s easy to see why. I’m looking forward to seeing the whole thing.

View the trailer, more info on the book and a bunch of production drawings on The Lost Thing website.

And since I’m here, I should mention that if you’re in Vancouver this October 16, 2010, are a fan of children’s literature, and would like to spend a morning listening to an extremely talented children’s book illustrator, The VCLR is hosting another illustrator breakfast. This time the guest is Pierre Pratt.

For more info, here’s a direct link to the registration form (pdf) or visit the VCLR website (unfortunately no direct link to the event info, but the flyer is currently at the top of their home page).

tales from last weekend


I went to the illustrator breakfast hosted by the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable this past weekend. This year’s special guest was Shaun Tan (he was also doing a number of Writer’s Festival events). I’ve been a fan of his books and painting for a long time (I’m in love with the suburban sidewalk painting as well as the pelican one), so I just had to go.

His presentation was funny, informative, inspiring, informal and entertaining. I think everyone could have listened to him for the rest of the day.

I had brought 3 of his earlier books from home and bought his two most recent ones at the event (The Arrival and tales from outer suburbia) with the idea that I would get them signed. The signing lineup was HUGE with most people clinging to multiple books so I had a brief thought that perhaps I could forgo a signature and just duck out. But I’m sure glad I didn’t. I was also determined that when it was finally my turn, I wasn’t going to get chatty with him and hold up the line. But it was impossible not to talk to him – he engaged every signee in conversation. So we talked briefly about book design (tales from outer suburbia and The Arrival are especially beautifully designed – there is an absolute marriage of text and illustration which is so sadly rare in children’s books for some reason) while he signed each of my books with versions of either an embellished inked-fingerprint or a specially designed stamp with hand drawn elements.

So I’m left feeling absolutely inadequate in the autograph-signing department (I’ve never had nice handwriting or been able to squiggle off a lovely little title page flourish) and humbled by Shaun Tan’s sheer talent and drawing endurance (The Arrival took 4 years to complete). But at the same time I’ve been inspired to spend more time with my hand wrapped around a pencil.