Tales from the inner city by Shaun Tan


We took the orca from the sea and put it in the sky. It was just so beautiful up there, so inspiring. But the calls of the mother never stopped.

Every story in this compilation will make you think about the world we live in and the relationships we have with animals.

You will come across animals we have forgotten, places that once were and never will be again, animals that live within our urban environments and others that want to live with us. You meet animals with agendas  – and will come away from each story wondering how much you really know about the animals that are part of this world.

Each story is accompanied with an illustration which adds more depth. Each story is filled with ideas rather than character or plot development but leaves you wondering – how did we get here?

These stories and poems can just be read for pure enjoyment and reflection but they can also be pondered upon – with the question – Is this really it?

This book is for older readers to enjoy and think about how animals can save us, and how our lives are forever entwined, for better or for worse.

So what can be done in the classroom?

Animals & Sustainability

Look at the table of contents and explore the way this has been created. Research how humans have and do interact between the animals and themselves. Draw similarities between the animal and human.

Compare and contrast the living habitats of animals who dwell in urban and rural areas. Are there benefits to either way of living

Explore the collective nouns for each of these animals.

Literacy

Explore flash fiction / microstory about a chosen animal after reading one in Tan’s novel (crocodile, butterfly, snails, shark, cat sheep, hippos, orca)  

Explore the famous short story by Ernest Hemingway

Why is this a good story?

Explore how picture books can tell a story in less than 500 words.

What do they need? What don’t they need?

Flash fiction does not have images – or perhaps only one – so you will need to tell more but still not as much as a short story.

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Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

‘Never step on a snail’

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan explores a relationship between two boys or brothers over the course of the summer holidays. This book is shelved in the Fiction section of our library and although younger readers may enjoy the pictures – it really is a book for readers who can think more deeply about what is happening as each page is turned.

cover-illustration-shaun-picture-book-rules-summer

There is no particular narrative in this story but rather a series of rules that one must not forget if they are to survive summer.

Each page adds more intrigue to the story being told through pictures and leaves many questions being asked by the reader. You may find many questions of self reflection being asked about children’s own approach to different situations and why that crow appears in nearly every page.

We had a lot of fun working through this picture book in four lessons. If you would like to go on a summer journey too: Visit my TPT store to purchase the lesson outline you can use with your group to explore:

– Details of the pictures

– The role adults play in the lives of children.

– Changing perspective.

– Creative thinking through the KAPLAN model.