'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 5 November 2010

Review: Eric

Über-talented Tan tugs at the heart strings (yet again) with Eric, an odd, unexplained silhouetted sylph of a creature who rocks up to a family’s house as a foreign exchange student. And boy is he foreign.

He looks foreign, he acts foreign, he sees things in foreign ways and asks foreign questions. He prefers to sleep in the pantry and takes much pleasure and interest in the simplest of everyday objects – a button, bottle caps, a lolly wrapper, a plug hole. Mum says these interests must be a cultural thing.

 He seems happy enough, though one can never be sure - he’s just so unassuming. He studies, keeps to himself, gets out and about to see the local sights, but, along with his host family, we never learn much about Eric. We never know where he’s from – nor where he is going – but most especially – how he feels. Is he happy? Does he feel comfortable and at home with his host family?

Then one day, Eric just leaves. Just like that. It kind of breaks the heart of the family – not because he’s gone, necessarily, but rather because they will never know if Eric had been happy during his stay.

But then they open the pantry – and there amongst the bottle caps and matchboxes is the most breathtaking artistic exhibition of luminescent flowers and swirling creations. As mystifying and beautiful as Eric himself, this gift will bring tears to your eyes – and Eric’s little note ‘thank you for a wonderful time’ says it all.

Subtle, intelligent, utterly beautiful (visually and verbally) and morphed into a heartfelt story as only Tan knows how, Eric is all about individuality, tolerance and how vital it is to respect each others’ space and our smallest idiosyncrasies that make life so precious

Eric has been published as a mini book which appears to be a current publishing trend and not something I’m personally loving. So much visual impact is lost in this small format and I’m still not sure what purpose they provide.

Title: Eric
Author/ illustrator: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, A$9.99RRP
Publication Date: April 2010
Format: Hardcover mini book
ISBN: 9781742372921
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book

This book is available online