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About the book | Five minutes with Shaun Tan | More about the author | Video | Digital assets 


Cicada tell story.

Story good. Story simple. 

Story even human can understand.

Tok Tok Tok!


About the book About the book

Introducing the new picture book from multi-award-winner Shaun Tan, author of The Arrival, The Lost Thing and Rules of Summer.

Cicada works in an office, dutifully toiling away day after day for unappreciative bosses and being bullied by his co-workers. But one day, Cicada goes to the roof of the building, and something truly extraordinary happens …

With Shaun’s stunning artwork, trademark dry wit and cutting observations about the everyday, this picture book is a story for anyone who has ever felt unnoticed, overlooked or overworked, from Australia’s most acclaimed picture-book creator.

Cicada will be published by Lothian Children’s Books on 26 June 2018, priced at $26.99.

‘[Tan’s] unique ability to capture the heart and soul of a story through images more than proves the truth of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.’Sydney Morning Herald


About the author Five minutes with Shaun Tan

I started writing because… 

I like stories. Who doesn’t? The real question is why didn’t I stop writing, or stop drawing for that matter. Basically, I found a way to keep doing it and still pay the rent: make books that people will buy!

The best part of writing Cicada was… 

Cutting it back. It was originally a much longer, overwrought story about workplace bullying, but by reducing the narrative to the voice of a simple insect, it became much more open to interpretation. 

Cicada was inspired by…

I once saw a single flowering plant in the window of a huge, sterile-looking office block in Berlin. For some reason I imagined a bug working there among humans, and continued to think about this idea on and off for the next 10 years. Along the way I became interested in the 17-year life cycle of certain cicadas, and also enjoyed watching office-based sitcoms. These three unlikely influences seemed to naturally fold into each other.

When I’m not writing I…

I’m probably painting!

My favourite place to curl up with a book is…

With my wife and four-year-old daughter. Interestingly, this family time also counts as research, since almost all of the books we read together are, naturally, picture books. I’ll be examining the imprint page, layout and production choices once everyone else has dropped off.

‘Tan’s work overflows with human warmth and childlike wonder.’New York Times Book Review


More about the author

Shaun Tan grew up in Perth and graduated from the University of Western Australia with joint honours in Fine Arts and English Literature. He began drawing and painting images for science-fiction and horror stories in small-press magazines as a teenager, and has since become best known for illustrated books that deal with social, political and historical subjects through surreal, dream-like imagery. His works include The Red Tree, The Lost Thing, Rules of Summer and the acclaimed wordless novel The Arrival

Shaun has also worked as a theatre designer and a concept artist for the films Horton Hears a Who! and Pixar’s WALL-E, and in 2011, he shared an Academy Award for his work on the animated short film based on his book, The Lost Thing. In that same year, he won the Dromkeen Medal for services to children’s literature and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s richest children’s literature award.

For more information visit and follow Shaun on Instagram @shauncytan.

‘A masterly visual storyteller.’—Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award


Watch Shaun Tan’s video message


Digital assets

Download teacher’s resources for Cicada here.





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