The Lost Thing

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The Lost Thing
Book cover
Book cover
Author Shaun Tan
Illustrator Shaun Tan
Country Australia
Language English
Publisher Lothian Books
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 32
ISBN 978-0-7344-1138-9

The Lost Thing is a picture book written and illustrated by Shaun Tan that was also adapted into an Academy Award-winning animated short film.[1]


Set in the near future, in dystopian Melbourne, Australia, The Lost Thing is a story about Shaun who enjoys collecting bottle tops for his bottle top collection. One day, while collecting bottle tops near a beach, he discovers a strange creature, that seems to be a combination of an industrial boiler, a crab, and an octopus. This creature is referred to as "The Lost Thing" by the narrator.

Shaun realizes the creature is lost and out of place. He attempts to find its owner or otherwise its source but is not able to, due to the indifference of everyone else. Pete, an opinionated friend of Shaun's, explains that it may not actually belong anywhere. When he seeks help from a government agency, he is met by a creature who warns that the department exists only to hide and forget about uncategorizable things, and gives him a business card with an arrowhead sign on it. After searching much of the city for the sign, which they find and follow numerous times, Shaun discovers a utopian land for lost things, where he parts ways with the creature, and continues on with his life - although he was unable to say whether the creature, or any of the others, really belonged there.[2][3]

2010 film[edit]

This book was adapted into a 15-minute animated short film in 2010, directed by Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann and narrated by Tim Minchin. It won the Oscar for Best Animated Short.[4] It was nominated for the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

The film was produced by Sophie Byrne and animated by two primary artists; CG lead Tom Bryant and animator and editor Leo Baker. Tom Bryant was located in Scotland, whilst Leo Baker worked from Melbourne. The film was in development for some years, but took three years of full time production to complete between 2007-2010.[5][6]


  1. ^ Byrne, Fiona (28 January 2011). "Shaun Tan takes his Lost Thing to LA". Herald Sun (Herald and Weekly Times). Retrieved 22 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Maria Popova, The Lost Thing: A Whimsical Story about Belonging by Shaun Tan, Brain Pickings, 5 July 2011.
  3. ^ Lilian Darmono, The Lost Thing: Interview With Shaun Tan, Motiongrapher, 19 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Oscar nominations 2011 in full". BBC News. 25 January 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Adriene Hurst, THE LOST THING - LOST AND FOUND, Digital Media World, 14 December 2010.
  6. ^ Bill Desowitz, The Oscars: Finding 'The Lost Thing', Animation World Network, 18 February 2011.

External links[edit]