Memorial – discovering respect for family military history


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Published in 1999, Memorial is a captivating picture book that appeals to a wide audience. Contemporary picture books are often pitched at a mature audience, yet the inclusion of a child as protagonist and family focused theme broadens the appeal.

The exploration of the impact of war on veterans across successive generations allows us to consider the role of individual memory in sharing experiences.

  • First person perspective of child discovering family’s military history
  • Tan’s The Unreturned appropriates Hurley’s iconic image
  • Fabric scraps visually structure paragraphs as a series of revelations
  • Contrasting pedestrian crossing catalogue of tree’s negative impact
  • Ultimate epiphany: ‘I know what he said is true’

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  • Hurley’s iconic war image – his reality of war on the western front included manipulation of situations and settings to create a deeper understanding of the brutal conditions for people who did not experience the battles. As such, we discover his emotional perspective, yet in Tan’s appropriation, we are able to consider the memory of veterans

The Unreturned

See more images and read Tan’s perspective on his artwork for this text on his website Shaun Tan 

  • more to come … soon
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