The narrator is a young man in a futuristic suburbia. He works on his bottle cap collection, when he stumbles upon a big, obviously lost thing. Since he doesn’t know what else to do with it and nobody else seems to notice or care, he takes it home with him until he can figure out a place where it can stay.
The Lost Thing has a sweet story and Shaun Tan’s illustrations are just pain wonderful. It will make you smile and it might even make you cry a little bit.
I’m such a fan of Shaun Tan’s work, I can hardly express it. And even though all his books look different, they’re still all recognisably him, a trait I very much admire. He creates these wonderful creatures seemingly without any effort at all.
And his world building is just as brilliant as his creatures. Before the story even starts you know that this is a world where physics, maths, engineering, strict beaurocracy are values and so the appearance of the thing and the fact that nobody seems to care, doesn’t come as a surprise but feels completely natural.
The story is really sweet. And a very nice analogy. And Tan himself says some very smart things about it here.
Read it. And then read everything else by Tan.