Tales from the Inner City


Pim plans his fishing programme meticulously yet is never successful. Therefore when he lands a magnificent moonfish beyond anything Dad has recalled from a boyhood memory, the family is overwhelmed. The story of the moonfish is one of twenty-five animal Tales from the Inner City. What about the sheep that the children know about, but feel and smell, while their teacher urges them to take care? Thereafter, what of the shark, hunted and hunted and captured and gloried over,  until it is butchered apart?

Shaun Tan is deservedly one of the most acclaimed and recognised creatives in the world. Tales from the Inner City is a contemplation of animals. They get into our city thoughts, live alongside us, are abused, discarded, manipulated or ignored within bustling, human, urban lives. Each story penetrates and lingers, while the picture concluding every tale defies our power of wonder and description.

Tales from the Inner City is not a children’s book. Like Shaun Tan’s other picture books, this work is based upon his observations and thoughts. Bookwagon urges older readers and their adults to read, love, realise and share this outstanding book.

Guardian: Shaun Tan wins the Kate Greenaway Medal for Tales from the Inner City


Tales from the Inner City

Shaun Tan

(Walker Studio)– hardback

Tales from the Inner City are the stories of animals within a human world. Some like the lungfish evolve from drainpipes to absorb, work beneath and thereafter beyond a human world. Meanwhile, human existence works, watches television and sleeps. Other animals, like the hippo, are dreamed by the prodigy who is a subject of fascination. He does not admit that thoughts of this creature are his constant refuge as he is observed, investigated, ridiculed and hunted.
Yet, what of the bear court? With ‘the Ledgers of the Earth, written in clouds and glaciers and sediments’.. in all the places we never bothered to look’… However, it seems that humans write all the laws. Although we may be begged to ‘take care of the sheep’ or mourn the loss of Tugboat, it seems that animals must exist in our world. Thereafter, we can be unaware of their existence. For example, the crocodiles in the city skyscraper, or the floods of butterflies that overwhelm a metropolis.
International award-winning picture book maker Shaun Tan is at the top of the game. While we know him best for The Arrival, used in every Year 6 classroom, there’s Cicada amongst many other works. There is another focus in Tales from the City yet the same wearied observation and consideration. Meanwhile, the pictures are breathtaking. This book merits a place on every bookshelf.

Winner of the Kate Greenaway Award


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