Rules of Summer

9780734410672-thumb summer.jpg

Book Information

Reader Personality Type
Arthur A. Levine 2014

Innovative and fun, deep and engrossing, Rules of Summer is one deceptive picture book! Let the art speak for itself like Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Readers are encouraged to enter the art and make decisions about the story based on the art and also their own experiences.The two page spread with text, "Never leave a red sock on the clothesline" shows two young boys cowering behind a fence, a clothesline empty except for said red sock and a large, menacing, red-eyed monster  bunny peering over the fence. The beast is many times their size and the boys  appear to be  hiding from it.Each spread features art by Tan and offers the opportunity for readers to tell a story for themselves. Rules of Summer is loosely put together featuring two boys, maybe brothers, who have adventures that summer. My favorite rule is,  "Never miss the last day of summer."  The art shows the smaller boy climbing to the top of a long ladder with the older boy offering his hand to help the smaller child up.

Wildly imaginative robots and weird birds make this story fun for young readers. I predict Rules of Summer will be hugely embraced by readers and art critics as well as art and creative writing teachers around the globe.Highly, highly recommended for the quirky reader in everyone and those who have wild imaginings and dream strange dreams.

48 pages   97805456519125  Ages  5-adult

See what the author says about his new picture book!<

Recommended by:  Pamela Thompson MLIS, Library Media Specialist, Texas USA

See more of her recommendations:


Never be late for a parade.
Never forget the password.
Never ruin a perfect plan.

It's all about the rules. But what if the rules feel completely arbitrary? What if your older brother is the only one who gets to make them up all summer long? And what if he's the only one who can save you when the darkness of winter comes rushing in?

As usual, master artist and storyteller Shaun Tan shows us the strange truth of ordinary things — rules, relationships, despair, and hope — as only he can.

Used by permission of the publisher.


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Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan. unpged. Arthur A. Levine Books/ Scholastic Inc., April, 2014. 9780545639125. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review)

Rules for reading Shaun Tan:
1. Always expect the unexpected.
2. Never skim.
3. Therefore, always leave a chunk of time to pore over the book.
4. Prepare to think.
5. You might just feel a bit uncomfortable.
6. Plan on rereading and finding something new each time that you do.

This is definitely a "never too old for picture books" picture book. There is a universality in the theme that should speak to any generation of siblings. I am the oldest of six (five girls). Were it not for the fact that I went on to birth four boys, this peculiar world might be totally alien to me. Might be. But on second thought, not really. (note rule #4)

As the oldest, I was tasked with "watching" my siblings most summers that I can remember. I remember longing for freedom, to go to camp, to go anywhere really. I remember utter fury at being yoked to this passel. Sure, we all had some fun but I truly resented having to be responsible.

I remember racing my next younger sister around the block on bikes. She was beating me and when she looked back to see where I was, her foot slipped off the pedal and into the spoke of the front wheel. The result was that she pitched over the handle bars bringing the bike with her. I am loathe to admit that I raced right past her. Only when I "won" did I turn my bike around to check on her. Wonder why this long buried memory surfaced while contemplating my review of this book? That is the evocative power of the images. (note rule #5)

At first glance, what with the winsome little guy in the foreground sporting a weird helmet and the cheery palette, one might be lulled into thinking this a nostalgic reminiscence. Upon closer inspection, one might notice the scowl on the face of the older boy and the industrial background. Don't skip the end-pages and the jacket flaps. (note rule #2) Surreal, provocative and disorienting might be words used to describe the illustrations. (note rule #1) Any one of them would make for a great VTS (Visual Thinking Strategy) exercise or writing prompt in the classroom. (rule #3) The entire book could be used as a mentor text at any level.

This is a 2014 favorite. I highly recommend adding it to your collection. I'm going to follow rule #6 now.
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