The Lost Thing


Having spent time with Shaun Tan in a small group workshop shortly after the publication of The Lost Thing, this picture book held great appeal to me as I re-read it recently. The layers of meaning and blending of visual/verbal text within his work, allow Tan to engage with a truly diverse readership. The Lost Thing within Tan’s picture book is emblematic of a number of social and political concerns. A social inability to appreciate the lost things in life, serves as the catalyst for Tan’s dystopic appropriation of Jeffrey Smart’s cityscapes. Tan himself acknowledges Smart on the final page of The Lost Thing, where in tiny upside down writing, we find “apologies to Jeffrey Smart.”  Tan’s critique of modern consumerism and hyper industrialised living creates a vivid reminder that what is lost must be found.


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