The Red Tree By Shaun Tan Essay

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It has no sequential narrative, which is something a picture book is ideal for – you can open it at any page, go backwards or forwards, and spend as much time as you wish with each image.

I'd also been increasingly aware that illustration is a powerful way of expressing of feeling as well as ideas, partly because it is outside of verbal language, as many emotions can be hard to articulate in words.

She imagines herself trapped in a bottle washed up on a forgotten shore, or lost in a strange landscape.

She's caught in a tiny boat between towering ships about to collide, then suddenly she's on stage before a mysterious audience, not knowing what to do.

At the beginning she awakes to find blackened leaves falling from her bedroom ceiling, threatening to quietly overwhelm her.

She wanders down a street, overshadowed by a huge fish that floats above her.I thought it would therefore be interesting to produce an illustrated book that is all about feelings, unframed any storyline context, in some sense going ‘directly to the source’.What resulted after many scribbles was a series of imaginary landscapes connected only by a minimal thread of text and the silent figure of a young girl at the center of each one, with whom the reader is invited to identify.Each image remains open to various interpretations in the absence of any accompanying description.What minimal 'story' there is seeks to remind us that just as bad feelings are inevitable, they are always tempered by hope.This seems appropriate, as everyone’s experience of ‘suffering’ or ‘hope’ is unique and personal.The picture book ‘the red tree’ written and illustrated by Shaun tan, conveys his perspective of the world with the effective use of literary and visual techniques such as symbolism, foreshadowing and the extended visual metaphor of the girl in the bottle on the ‘nobody understands’ a story without any particular narrative; a series of distinct imaginary worlds as self-contained images which invite readers to draw their own meaning in the absence of any written explanation.As a concept, the book is inspired by the impulse of children and adults alike to describe feelings using metaphor - monsters, storms, sunshine, rainbows and so on.won the Patricia Wrightson prize in the NSW Premier’s Book Awards, and was awarded the 'le Prix Octogones 2003’ prize by the Centre International d'Etudes en Litterature de Jeunesse, following it’s translation into French.It is also published as Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish and Canadian/US editions.


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