Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan, hardback picture book, published by Lothian Children’s Books in 2013.
Two brothers navigate the landscapes of their imaginations in a series of rules as learnt last summer by the younger brother. Never step on a snail or eat the last olive or drop your jar because you never know what the consequences might be!
A magical story about the power of the imagination, and the childhood belief that anything is possible. Rules of Summer reminds me of that old rhyme “Step on a crack and break your mother’s back” that we would sing as we jumped over cracks in the pavement as children. These rules are similar to that rhyme, with nature overtaking the lounge room if the backdoor is left open, a giant red bunny appearing when a sock is left on the line, and a tornado appearing when a snail is squished. As adults it’s easy to say that these things will not really happen, but in a child’s vivid imagination these are only some of the possible outcomes if you break the rules.
With the most engaging illustrations, it is easy to lose yourself in the pictures and re-ignite the spark of imagination and curiosity that may have floundered on the way to adulthood. Sharing this book with your child is a special journey for both children and adults, and is especially good for children in primary school.
Rules of Summer is a reminder to us all of the power and beauty of the imagination.
* Rules of Summer was the winner of the 2014 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Picture Book category.