An Oscar-Winning Book?

January 30th, 2011 by

Recently, I said that the Newbery Awards are like the Oscars for books. But this time, I’m talking about a book that might actually win an Oscar! How’s that possible? Well, it’s actually a movie that’s based on a book — but it’s closer to the original than the average film adaptation because it’s an animated movie based on a book that’s mainly made up of illustrations, and because the book’s author played a huge part in creating the movie.

The movie is The Lost Thing, and it’s nominated for an Oscar in the animated short film category. The book is also called The Lost Thing, and it’s a picture book by Australian author/illustrator Shaun Tan. In both the book and the film, a boy discovers a strange creature one day while he’s at the beach and tries to find out where it belongs. Sounds simple enough, right? Not exactly Oscar material? Well, it’s not quite as straightforward as that: The creature is gigantic and red, with green tentacles — and yet no one except the boy really pays any attention. And the setting for the story isn’t your ordinary town, but a sort of future world with green skies and crazy amounts of machinery and plumbing. NOW I’ve got your attention, right?

Check out this beautiful illustration from the original book (taken from Shaun Tan’s official website, where you can see even more!):

Illustration from "The Lost Thing" (from

Now see how The Lost Thing comes to life on film in the official movie trailer:

(You can also see some incredible behind-the-scenes sketches and movie stills on Shaun Tan’s site.)

Unfortunately, you probably won’t get a chance to read the book before the Academy Awards next month because up until now, the book has never been published in the United States. But don’t worry — in April, The Lost Thing will be published in America as part of a collection of short stories by Shaun Tan, called Lost and Found.

And if you can’t wait until then, definitely check out Shaun Tan’s other amazing books, which also have gorgeous and bizarre illustrations: The Arrival and Tales from Outer Suburbia.

— Karen

Every year, Karen tries to watch all the Oscar nominees for animated short film. It’s usually the only category where she sees all the movies. Just further proof she forgot to grow up somewhere along the way!

More about Karen »

PS – Full disclosure: I work for the company that publishes Shaun Tan’s books in America, but I don’t work on them at all. Man oh man, how I wish I did!!!!!

2 Responses

  • Susan writes:
    February 1st, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I am lucky enough to live in Australia! I love Tan’s illustration work, love the world he’s built for The Lost Thing, and the movie has my highest hopes for it.

  • Amy writes:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I love Shaun Tan’s work. Now I’ll definitely be on the lookout for that beautifully adapted short. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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