Dog by Shaun Tan

Title:  Dog
Author & Illustrator: Shaun Tan
Published: November 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Readership: Children’s Picturebook
Genre: Fiction
Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $19.99

I received a copy of Dog from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A beautifully poetic and gorgeously illustrated reflection on the relationship between dogs and humans. Dog is a stand-alone picture book of one of the most-loved stories from the bestselling and internationally acclaimed Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan, winner of the 2020 Kate Greenaway medal.

Once we were strangers,
legs bent the wrong way,
rough voices falling to the wind …
But in our hearts we wanted more than this. In our hearts, we knew there was more.

‘A tour de force.’ – The New York Times

Dog is a gorgeous, heartbreaking story about the powerful relationship between dogs and their human owners. I first read it in Shaun Tan’s Tales from the Inner City collection back in 2018 when I reviewed it for Allen and Unwin, and I adored not only the collection as a whole, but this story in particular. I’ve always been a ‘dog person’ and stories about dogs hold a special place in my heart as a result.

This short story is told through words and illustrations – there are whole sections that are just glorious paintings done by Tan – and span generations of dog owners. It highlights the loyal bond between dogs and their owners, and the sometimes heartbreaking nature of that relationship.

I think the truly remarkable part of this story is the story behind it, which Tan includes at the end. His inspiration was taken from a news clipping with a photo of a dog after its own had died in a house fire, kindling an exploration of the relationship dynamics between man and dog.

For such a short and simple story (on the surface), the themes are complex, beautiful and thought-provoking. It is a beautiful book that any dog-owner (or dog fan) can relate to and would make a wonderful gift.

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