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

Friday 18 December 2020

Review: Eric

Every Shaun Tan title comes with a mystery to be solved, on how to translate and set an age bracket on his incredible work. I find it impossible to classify. I simply allow myself to absorb and appreciate the thought-provoking aspect of it.

More questions are born than are answered.

Children will view it with an innocent and practical eye, describing what they see, perhaps more clearly than adults. Adults will dig, and deconstruct, and wonder at the complex and simple sides of Tan’s meticulous and intriguing work. I prefer to allow the reader to find what they think is hiding there.


Each person will discover something different and so, make the book theirs.

Here is the visible. The title page with a single button and the name eric in lower case. The next page, Eric by Shaun Tan, is written on a crumpled, then smoothed out envelope of the old par avion style, that had the red and blue slanting boxes around the border. This sets the scene.

Eric is a foreign visitor; an exchange student. As there is no clear way of knowing who or what he is, we immediately conclude he is as unusual as his name which can’t be pronounced, from another culture and tradition.

He told us to just call him Eric.

He was unused to the comforts of home that were offered, so Eric chose to study and sleep in the pantry. His thirst to know about strange and unlikely things made others uncomfortable as they couldn’t offer answers. His interest was in the small, common items of daily life. He preferred distance to closeness.

This was put down to a cultural thing.

As quietly as he came, he left. Questions were passed around. Lack of understanding ruled.

Eric left behind a note in a cup saying, thankyou for wonderful time, and countless tiny sprouting seeds planted in everyday objects. An expression of parts of who he identified with.

Regardless whether they were understood or not, they held a singular beauty. This was the greatest gift of gratitude.

Stunning end papers reflect Eric’s thoughts and needs.

Title: Eric
Author/Illustrator: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $ 19.99
Publication Date: 1 September 2020
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760877972
For ages: 7+
Type: Picture Book