“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans

“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” is a Shaun Tan creation that was not meant as a stand-alone book. It is a limited-edition companion volume to the original DVD with the animated adaptation of “The Lost Thing” picture book (see review here).

“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
DVD produced by Passion Pictures Australia in association with Screen Australia, 2010

The multi-award winning picture book was published in 2000 (when Shaun was only 25 years old! [1]). Following the creation of the book the 15 minutes film was 10 years in the making and was certainly well worth the effort.  “The Lost Thing” won the Oscar for the best animated short film in 2011.

“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” includes Shaun’s original conceptual drawings for creatures who made appearance in the film, the inhabitants of Utopia world introduced in the picture book.

Shaun Tan explains it as:

 “a guidebook for the identification of ‘things that just don’t belong’, published by the FDOE (Federal Department of Odds and Ends), but which has long since fallen out of popular use due to a lack of public interest. With the release of the DVD in November 2010, however, it seemed as good a time as any to dust off the government’s printing press one last time for the 257th edition.”[2]

Each creature’s potential raison d’être is hinted at by an awesome quirky name, in keeping with the spirit of Shaun’s unique imagination, which so many fall in love with. As affectionate as can be, despite being so bizarre, I’m sure they’ll grab attention and possibly win your heart. From “one-watt scribbler”, “polyglot wingbeater” and “obstetric metallurgist” to “luminous sugar-seeker” to the “unclassified” chap on the last page – please meet some protagonists of the “Miscellaneous Abnormality”:

“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews
“What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?” a treat for Shaun Tan fans Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Australian Illustrated Books, Shaun Tan, Wordless Picture Books Kids Book Reviews

When asked about what makes good art Shaun said that the only measure known to him is that of how interesting it is. [3] His own art certainly lives up to that measure if not beyond it.  One word from me is – Love!

To read more about Shaun Tan genius and see more of his books click here.

[1]   Kylie Northover, “Moving in a land of the lost”, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/moving-in-a-land-of-the-lost-20130705-2pg9t.html; 

[2] http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/moving-in-a-land-of-the-lost-20130705-2pg9t.html;

[3]  Special features (interview with Shaun Tan), “The Lost Thing” DVD, produced by Passion Pictures in association with Screen Australia.

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