The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan — June 26, 2020

The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

Synopsis – This is a story about a child who finds a lost thing on the beach when he is looking for bottle tops to add to his collection. No-one else notices the lost thing, so he decides to find where the lost thing belongs.


My thoughts –  Within this book, you never find out the name of the main character, who narrates the book.

This makes it seem like the reader is the person who the story belongs to and it is their story they are sharing with the listener.

The main moral/value within the story is belonging and fitting in. The idea of everyone having a place that they belong and fit in is a theme throughout the words and illustrations within the book. It is also directly referenced in the last few pages.

Another theme within the book is how curiosity changes as we grow up, that younger people are more curious about the world. As we grow up we wonder about the world less and accept the world as it is without questioning.

The illustrations within the book are very interesting. There are many pictures on each page, framed differently to highlight different aspects of the illustrations and to convey different meanings. There are few colours used in the illustrations and they are quite dull, apart from the lost thing. This helps the lost thing to stand out more and catch the readers attention, as the colour is so contrasting to the rest of the image. There is a lot of depth to the images, with a lot of activity and emotion captured within each image in the book.

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to children aged 9 and above due to the levels of meaning within the story, however younger children may also enjoy reading it, particularly looking at the illustrations. It can be read at face value, or with more depth, considering the themes with criticality.

Classroom ideas – Due to the value of fitting in, this book would be useful to use within a classroom where children are struggling to form friendships and children don’t feel like they fit in. It will help them to understand that they are not alone, and they have somewhere they will fit in. This would lend itself to PSHE lessons, where these topics could be discussed sensitively.

One activity you could do with pupils is asking them to rewrite the story from the perspective of the lost thing, exploring the emotions that it feels throughout the story, using vivid language to describe what is happening and how the environment looks.

You could stop reading before the end, asking the pupils to write a different ending for the story, maybe he looks after the lost thing or perhaps he gives it to a friend.