June 27, 2021

Review: Eric

Written and illustrated by Shaun Tan
Available now from Scholastic Press
Review copy

More than ten yeas ago, I reviewed Lost and Found by Shaun Tan. It is a joy to return to his work, although Eric is not new. This was originally one of the stories included in Tales from Outer Suburbia, published in 2009. This is disclosed in the book's legal matter, and I'm sure fans of that anthology would recognize Eric on the cover of this eponymous volume.

Eric is a short, sweet tale. The narrator tells of a strange exchange student who came to live with their family. (No gender is given for the narrator.) The narrator is excited to share their life with Eric, who is quiet and a little strange to them. The mom, of course, chalks it up to cultural differences. Nothing is ever said of the fact that Eric is a small, wispy figure.

Tan's art adds so much to the story. The art expounds upon the text, each giving us a bit of insight into the mysterious Eric. The art is whimsical, full of beautiful details and charming humor. When the art disappears with Eric, the emotional impact is felt. Then, for the first time, color is added to the black and white illustrations.

I can understand why Eric was reprinted as a standalone work. It is a timely story about the joy of sharing your culture with another person and the beauty of experiencing their cultural in return. It is a kind story, and a hopeful one, punctuated by bits of melancholy that make the happy ending that much better. I highly recommend this lovely book.

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