Shaun Tan (Lothian) 2018, unnumbered pages, RRP $26.99 (hardback), $13.99 (eBook)

The Aussie Tan won an Oscar in 2011 for his short film The Lost Thing (based upon his 2000 book) but these days works primarily as an author of children’s tomes, many of which have a quietly satirical edge and (unusually for this sort of genre) something of a punchline. His latest, a glossy, beautifully illustrated volume indeed,Cicada - Shaun Tan - Lothian - Hachette Australia - The Clothesline might be enjoyed by kids who will simply love the pictures, but there’s also plenty here for adults as well, much of which lingers long after the five minutes it takes to read the thing.

A cicada in a business suit has worked in the city for seventeen years and is underappreciated and bullied at his job, and although we don’t know why he’s the only cicada in the building or how a cicada ever got such a full-time desk gig we powerfully feel for him anyway. Each page concludes with the much-quoted “Tok Tok Tok”, and Tan uses this apparent cicada exclamation to amusing effect as the story nears a conclusion.

You can probably guess what’s going to happen, but the author doesn’t just leave this as a simple, fairy-tale piece about hidden beauty but adds a quick epilogue that demonstrates that the cicada gets the last laugh. And he deserves it too.

One for those out there who feel lost and neglected, and desperately want to fly away somewhere else and leave all that horrible adult stuff behind. Tok Tok Tok!!!

Dave Bradley

This title available through the Hachette Australia website. Click HERE to purchase your copy.

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