The Longest Strongest Thread 06/04/20
Rules of Summer
Publisher: Lothian Children's Books
This book showcases Shaun Tan's talents as both an illustrator and fine artist. Here we are simply told that the pages show us 'what I learned last summer' and a series of 'rules' are paired with a striking image on each spread.
Some are dark and rather frightening, 'Never leave a red sock on the clothesline.' is illustrated with two boys cowering behind a fence as an enormous flame red rabbit eyes the lone sock. Some are funny; 'Never leave the back door open overnight' shows the boy looking frustrated as his living room is destroyed by lizards and sea anemone. Some are quite mysterious, in 'Never be late for a parade.' The boy works on a robot at the side of the road as a curious parade troops past. The images seem to build on each other as characters and scenes echo across the pages and the final spread build on a sequence that somehow feels like an uplifting ending, though the narrative is sparse and open to interpretation.
An excellent book that would be an inspiring addition to any bookshelf. In the classroom it could begin a multitude of lessons, encouraging creative thought and response to the text and images in their combinations or on their own. A mysterious marvel that should not be overthought, simply enjoyed for what it is: bizarre and beautiful.