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The Art of Children's Book Author Shaun Tan

April 11, 2023

Shaun Tan has long been one of my favorite picture book artists. His surreal worlds and unusual characters are thought provoking and emotionally arresting, making his fantastical books stand out from the norm in children's literature.

Born in Australia in 1974, Shaun Tan has won several awards for his work, including the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2011. He sees his picture books as experiments in illustrated narrative for all interested readers, not just children. Remember, picture books are for everyone.

Shaun Tan's books can be found throughout our collection, including Teens and Children's. His books are at turns funny, mysterious, emotional, and otherworldly, and deserve to be shared.

Released last year, Creature: Paintings, Drawings, and Reflections is a deep dive by the artist himself into his inspiration and process when creating art. Aspiring artists of all ages —including young children—are sure to find something to spark their imagination in this beautiful book, perfect for coffee tables or the art classroom. 

In Rules of Summer, two brothers find that the lazy days of summer are not all lazy when unforeseen adventures—and rules— are afoot. What do rules like "never be late for a parade" or "never argue with an umpire" have to do with robots, lizards, and birds of all shapes and sizes? You'll learn along with the two boys when you read this book! Short sentences are joined with captivating illustrations sure to provoke conversation and wonder.

In The Arrival, Tan draws upon his own family history of immigration to tell both a familiar and yet fantastical story of a journey into an alien landscape with new customs, new languages, and weird little creatures to boot.

Rendered in sepia tones and completely without words, The Arrival is unbelievably moving. At 128 pages, it is particularly well suited for older readers, and can serve as way for students to talk about their and their families' stories of immigration. This is the kind of book with which you need to take your time, so as to better appreciate how fully the power of wordless books and graphic novels is realized within its pages.

Author and Artist Shaun Tan

For more of Shaun Tan's books available in our collection, be sure to check out catalog widget above. Borrow one (or all!) to see what kinds amazing things you can discover in these books by a wonderful artist.

Klem-Mari Cajigas


In a former life, Klem-Marí was a Religious Studies scholar. She much prefers being the Family Literacy Coordinator for Bringing Books to Life! She wants you to read and share books with the children in your life, and for those children to see you to read as well. Originally from Puerto Rico, Klem-Marí also enjoys her cat, baking, yoga, and the works of Octavia Butler.