Mapping Child-Animal Care Relations in Shaun Tan’s Tales from Outer Suburbia

  • Amy Mulvenna
Keywords: Shuan Tan, Outer Suburbia, story, caring relations, companion species

Abstract

This article explores caring relations between child characters and sentient animals in two tales by Australian author-illustrator Shaun Tan. Each of Tan’s 15 Tales from Outer Suburbia are set in an “outer” suburban world replete with curious critters. These include a silent and stoic water buffalo, an unmoving dugong (manatee), and other surprising companion species. In this article, the author unpacks the caring relationships between child protagonists and the sentient creatures they encounter in two selected tales by focusing specifically on those processes that bring these characters together in curious encounters: that is, processes of embodied mapping. Emphasis is placed on enchantment and movement, and, in particular, moments given to pausing, lingering, and reflection. The author argues that both the fields of human-animal studies and the social studies of childhood can gain from exploration of the subtleties of these moments.

Published
2020-07-14
Section
Articles from Research