Tales from the Inner City

Shaun Tan. Scholastic/Levine, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-338-29840-6
Like its predecessor, Tales from Outer Suburbia, these short stories by Tan imagine a collection of alternate worlds; here, they chronicle the lives of animals who dwell cheek by jowl with humans amid urban sprawl. Tan’s skill as a writer provides sturdy scaffolding for a seemingly endless stream of startling ideas. Crocodiles live on the 87th floor of an office building. Lungfish assemble in subway stations. Massive snails make love on city streets. Bears sue humans, not just for murder and genocide, but for crimes under the bear legal code: “Spiritual Exclusion, Groaking, and Ungungunurumunre.” Sometimes, the animals face extinction; almost always—and especially in the gorgeous, haunting paintings—they display dignity and power that the book’s humans lack. In one series of images, a snowy owl superintends a hospital patient, its magnificent golden eyes gleaming impassively from the bed railing. Elsewhere, a fox hangs poised in midair above a sleeping man, ready to pounce: “Your four-digit codes and firewalls.... None of it can keep me out!” In these uneasy, strange visions, moments of beauty, and even a bleak, futurological kind of joy, abides. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 09/25/2018
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 978-986-189-945-9
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-7352-6520-2
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