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Lost Thing

Lost Thing 1

by Shaun Tan

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 20/05/2010

5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $17.99 $15.75

The Lost Thing is a humorous story about a boy who discovers a bizarre-looking creature whilst out collecting bottle-tops at the beach.

Having guessed that it is lost, he tries to find out who owns it or where it belongs, but the problem is met with indifference by everyone else, who barely notice it's presence. Each is unhelpful in their own way; strangers, friends, parents all unwilling to entertain this uninvited interruption to day-to-day life.

In spite of his better judgement, the boy feels sorry for this hapless creature, and attempts to find out where it belongs. Shaun Tan creates intricate collages filled with whimsical images, bright colors, and meaningful prose. He invites his readers to look at the world in a different way.

Picture storybooks
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
Hachette Australia
Country of origin:
Dimensions (mm):

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • Clever and insightful, but also heart-warming

    by on

    The Lost Thing is an illustrated book for young readers by award-winning Australian illustrator and author, Shaun Tan. The story is being told, according to the post card from Suburbia on the back cover, to the reader by Shaun. In it, a younger Shaun, idling around by the beach, spots The Lost Thing. At least, it seems lost to him. It’s quite big, but when he interacts with it, it seems friendly, and he tries to find out to whom it might belong. Unsuccessful, he eventually takes it with him. His friend Pete gives some sage counsel, and Shaun takes this large, red, part-metal, part-creature, home.

    When his parents notice it, Shaun’s mother reacts like most do: “Its feet are filthy!” she shrieks. His father is equally negative: it has to go. The Lost Thing is hidden in the shed, but Shaun knows that’s not a permanent solution, so he tries his best to do the right thing. He encounters bureaucratic indifference in the city (Downtown, 6328th Street, Tall Grey Building 357b) but also helpful advice, and hopes he has ultimately helped The Lost Thing to a good destination.

    Tan’s exquisitely composed colour illustrations are presented on a background of what appears to be heavily foxed pages of technical notes and drawings from a textbook. In keeping with this, the back cover has a (rather self-deprecating) sticker that includes “INSPECTOR’S COMMENTS: No perceptible threat to the order of day to day existence. Inconsequential. Safe for public consumption”. Damned by faint praise… The departmental stamps with their logos and Latin mottos are smart and funny.

    There is so much detail in the illustration that each page, even the endpapers and the front and back cover, bears minute examination. Young eyes will be fine, but older readers supervising (or reading for themselves: Tan’s books should not be reserved for young readers!) may appreciate a little magnification. It’s really worth doing this because the text tells you that the young man has a bottle-top collection, but just how serious he is about that is only revealed when you read the title of the fat red book he is carrying around. Clever and insightful, but also heart-warming: Shaun Tan is so talented!!