Shaun Tan is one of my favourite artists. His picture books such as The Red Tree and The Arrival describe the human experience in spare language and stunning, atmospheric imagery.
Rules of Summer follows two young brothers over the course of a summer, capturing the headiness of long, hot school holidays and the rituals and customs of children’s imaginative play.
I recently went back to the book after it was shortlisted for this year’s Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration. It was every bit as evocative as I remembered.
The unique and detailed illustrations are rendered in a thick acrylic paint that creates an incredible texture. There is a wonderful depth of colour as the story moves from bleached landscapes to dark, surreal moodscapes.
This is a story that lives and breathes, so strongly does it conjure that time in our lives – set loose from school and home – when the only rules that mattered where the ones we made up.
Rules of Summer, by Shaun Tan, published by Hodder Children’s Books, is available now.