The BiblioFiles Presents: Shaun Tan

sean tan b & w_1

Just posted! A webcast and podcast with multiple award winning, and New York Times bestselling, author, illustrator, artist, and filmmaker, Shaun Tan.

For over two decades, Shaun Tan has created unique worlds with his books, graphic novels, and artistic projects like The Arrival, Tales from Outer Suburbia, Rules of SummerLost & Found, The Bird King, The Singing Bones, Tales from the Inner City, and Cicada.

The cardinal points in Tan’s work are connection and disconnection, the natural world and the unnatural urbanized world. Tan deftly abolishes the boundaries between them, however, with his unrivaled imagination. Hybrid machine beasts, spires and towers, a glorious illuminated garden, an orca swimming above a grid of city lights…Tan presents these wonders while also exploring the essential connections between everything. How we connect to ourselves, how we connect to one another, how we connect with animals, how we connect with the environment. And how, at times, we fail to make these connections, or even damage them. Distinct, expansive, fanciful, foreboding, playful, powerful, beautiful, and thought-provoking, Tan infuses his pages and canvases with a vision unlike anyone else.

Tan’s career has included New York Times bestselling and multiple award-winning books, as well as a diversity of fantastic collaborative projects. He won an Academy Award for his short film The Lost Thing, and also received the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to children’s literature.

Follow this link to the BiblioFiles interview

Ducky Discovery

What if you discover a duck in your fridge? What if you discover ducks all over your HOUSE? With this easy printable project and hilarious picture book, you can do just that!

We read Duck in the Fridge by Jeff Mack (Two Lions, 2014). When a little boy asks his Dad a bedtime question about a Mother Goose book, Dad recalls the time he was a kid and found a duck in the fridge. And how more ducks begin appearing in various rooms of the house. The crowd quickly expands to include sheep, dogs, cows…until NO ONE is getting any sleep! Finally, clever Dad contrives to read Mother Goose, which does the trick. Don’t miss the final page of the book. It will make you laugh out loud!

You’ll need:

  • A ducky discovery template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • A couple toilet paper or paper towel tubes
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

Color and cut the ducks from the template, then tape them to snippets of toilet paper or paper towel tubes so they stand upright. Then hide the ducks in various parts of your house and wait for them to be discovered! Duck in the Closet…

Duck on the Pillow…

Duck in the Tub…

Annnnnnd Duck in the Studio (look carefully!)…

One Two Books

It’s a story line, an illustration exercise, and an optical illusion all wrapped into one simple project! “One Two Books” is an activity I like to do for Draw With Dr. Dana, our Zoom illustration program (you can sign up for it here)!

You’ll need:

  • 1 piece of paper
  • Markers and/or pens

To begin, fold a piece of paper in half like a card (I use the heavier stock 9″ x 6″ paper from the inexpensive sketch books Target sells in their office supply section). Label the front of the card with a number 1:

Then open the card and, in the exact same position in the interior, label it with a number 2:

Now decide the story you want to tell. One Two Books only have 2 pages, so I encourage kids to think about a simple action, reaction, or scenario. The younger the artist, the simpler it should be. So here we have a sleeping dog and a grumpy bird on a window sill…hmmm…

Flip open the card for the action…a shouting bird and a shocked, no longer sleeping dog!

One Two Books are a great way to think sequentially, but they are also a terrific way to teach you to think logically and visually. For example, in order for the image to work, the window, rug, and floor line need to occur in the same place on both pages. If color is used, it needs to be consistent between pages. Your characters need to be in somewhat similar orientations or the story won’t make sense. And for the older kids, I show how dialogue or emotive lines adds to the scene (example: the “zzzzz” for the dog on page 1, and its surprised reaction lines on page 2).

The books are also optical illusions! Flip them quickly open and shut to see your characters in motion. Here’s the bird dog story:


And here’s a goldfish story I did with another young illustrator…


The visual action of One Two Books are similar to thaumatropes, which are fantastic optical toys from the Victorian era. Check out this post, which features our awesome Alice in Wonderland thaumatrope project, complete with instructions and printable templates!

thaumatrope demo

Unlike thaumatropes, however, One Two Books allow you more space to create. You can have several action sequences happening on the page at once, for example. Or more elaborate backgrounds. You can have dialogue between two characters as well.

Another interesting storytelling form to try is kamishibai, which originated in Japan. You can find more information about its history and instructions on how to illustrate stories here.

just the cards

There’s also a Japanese version of thaumatropes called tachi-e puppets. You’ll find instructions for those here!