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Tales from the Inner City

Review

Tales from the Inner City

The first hint that you're in for something completely whimsical and magical in TALES FROM THE INNER CITY is the wondrous illustration on the cover. Inexplicably, a young boy is holding a large glowing fish. It's eye-catching and enticing and a perfect first glimpse at a really incredible book.

"TALES FROM THE INNER CITY by Shaun Tan is a masterpiece....Every line seems so well thought out that the rhythm and cadence or each phrase is like the movements of the animals themselves..."

TALES FROM THE INNER CITY by Shaun Tan is a masterpiece of poetic language, colorful drawings and heartbreaking stories. Each separate piece is centered on a surreal animal, mammal or insect --- a vignette of sorts that introduces readers to the animal in a new way, usually about a kind of havoc the animal is wreaking or the kind of havoc humans are wreaking upon them. Every line seems so well thought out that the rhythm and cadence or each phrase is like the movements of the animals themselves --- hoof beats and flutters of wings, prowling on light paws and swishing of fish through the air (yes, the air).

My favorite selection, a poem, actually is one that I wish could be framed and read over and over again to every dog and animal lover I know or meet. It’s about the relationship between humans and dogs told in small verses of a poem on various pages with beautiful images to accompany it. And like the pieces that come before and after it, it is exceptional and unique, making the connection between humans and animals in a slightly lopsided way.

The illustrations too can almost be enjoyed separately without the accompanying narratives but even so, invite awe and wonder with the detail and use of color. Shaun Tan is very talented and this volume boasts of it.

It's hard to tell the age range --- I think that as a young adult I appreciate it fully but I think this could be shared in classrooms and engender discussions in art courses and storytelling courses. It showcases the best of writing --- of emotional narratives that pack a punch and leave you breathless for the short time it takes you to devour each work.

The stories are short enough to read in an afternoon but I think you should savor them, picking your way through the prose and poems and taking time to enjoy each piece of art. I can't wait to see the inevitable flurry of awards this book will get because it is simply too gorgeous not to acknowledge. Go pick it up yourself and enjoy it.

Reviewed by Brianna Robinson on October 17, 2018

Tales from the Inner City
by Shaun Tan