On the surface, Shaun Tan’s award-winning picture book Rules Of Summer is simply a list of rules. Below I take a look at how Rules Of Summer is in fact a complete narrative.
There is also a message here. Readers are asked to wonder: What are the real rules of summer? Play together. Use your imaginations. Work out your differences.
STORY STRUCTURE OF RULES OF SUMMER
Does this picturebook — more like a coffee table book of art in some ways — follow the universal seven steps of narrative, as outlined by John Truby? Yes, it does, though it requires the reader to provide some of that story. Shaun Tan doesn’t hand it to us on a plate.
Two brothers are faced with a long summer and they must learn to entertain themselves and how to get along.
They want to have fun
They turn everyday situations into imaginary scenarios to fight the boredom of long, never-ending days of summer holidays.
Notice the pictures get darker. Especially the skies.
They have a fist-fight. The older brother wins. The younger brother feels isolated as he waits for an apology.
If he waits long enough, the older brother will eventually come back to him. This emotional state is depicted as a snowy, cold landscape.
The boys sit together on the couch looking at the TV.
Sure enough, Rules Of Summer is a complete narrative, and this is what makes the book resonant.