August 17, 2018


I've been waiting for Cicada by Shaun Tan for so long that I finally asked a friend in Australia to send a copy to me, and I'm so excited to talk about it here.

Cicada tells the story of a hardworking white collar cicada who has never missed a day of work, has never called in sick, and is NEVER appreciated for his work. Every day for seventeen years he performs the same job in his cubicle, and every day he goes "home" to a hole in the office walls because he cannot afford rent. But just when you think he's on the edge and has completely given up, he transforms into something impossibly beautiful, taking along all the lessons he's learned along the way.

Absolutely breath-taking, this tale is open to a lot of interpretation. For me, this story heavily parallels stories told by immigrants, of how they are beaten down and taken for granted for menial pay. I like to think that the cicada molting at the end as symbolic of the path he has worked to pave for future generations, of the pain he endured so future generations could exist without burden. While the first half of the book has text (always on the lefthand page), the second half is wordless with full page bleeds: the cicada literally goes from boxed-in to boundless. It's an emotional transformation to be sure, and this story is definitely worth digging into much, much more in the future. 

Cicada published in 2018 in Australia from Lothian Children's Books and will publish January 2019 in the United States from Arthur A Levine Books.

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1 comment:

  1. What a totally wonderful book! Aussie creator Shaun Tan is one skilled man! The fine art in Cicada, a short however flawlessly written kids' book, is spectacular; the story superb.