The Lost Thing

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The Lost Thing
The Lost Thing cover.jpg
Book cover
Author Shaun Tan
IllustratorShaun Tan
Publisher Lothian Books
Publication date
Media typePrint
ISBN 978-0-7344-1138-9
OCLC 61677652

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]

Shaun Tan Australian illustrator, writer, and animated filmmaker

Shaun Tan is an Australian artist, writer and film maker. He won an Academy Award for The Lost Thing, a 2011 animated film adaptation of a 2000 picture book he wrote and illustrated. Other books he has written and illustrated include The Red Tree and The Arrival.



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.

A dystopia is a community or society that is undesirable or frightening. It is translated as "not-good place" and is an antonym of utopia, a term that was coined by Sir Thomas More and figures as the title of his best known work, Utopia, published 1516, a blueprint for an ideal society with minimal crime, violence and poverty.

Bottle cap

A bottle cap seals the top opening of a bottle. A cap is typically colourfully decorated with the logo of the brand of beverage. Plastic caps are used for plastic bottles, while metal with plastic backing is used for glass; the metal is usually steel. Plastic caps may have a pour spout. Flip-Top caps like Flapper closures provide controlled dispensing of dry products. Caps for plastic bottles are often made of a different type of plastic from the bottle.

Boiler closed vessel in which water or other fluid is heated

A boiler is a closed vessel in which fluid is heated. The fluid does not necessarily boil. The heated or vaporized fluid exits the boiler for use in various processes or heating applications, including water heating, central heating, boiler-based power generation, cooking, and sanitation.

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

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.

Animated cartoon film genre

An animated cartoon is a film for the cinema, television or computer screen, which is made using sequential drawings, as opposed to animation in general, which include films made using clay, puppets, 3D modeling and other means. Animated cartoons are still created for entertainment, commercial, educational and personal purposes.

Andrew Ruhemann is a film producer, director and the founder of Passion Pictures, the double Academy Award winning independent production company.

Tim Minchin Australian comedian, actor,  singer, songwriter, music composer and musician

Timothy David Minchin is an Australian comedian, actor, writer, musician, composer, lyricist and director. He was born in Northampton, England, to Australian parents, but raised in Perth, Western Australia.

The film was produced by Sophie Byrne with Passion Pictures Australia [5] 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. [6] [7]

Sophie Byrne

Sophie Byrne is an Australian film and TV producer, best known for the Academy Award winning animated short The Lost Thing.

Leo Baker is a writer and film director. Leo was the sole animator of the 2011 Oscar Award winning short animation The Lost Thing. Between 2013 and 2016 Leo co-directed a feature documentary film The Will To Fly about the life and sport career of Olympic freestyle aerial skier Lydia Lassila.

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  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. "The Lost Thing wins the Oscar for Best animated Short". Screen Australia. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  6. Adriene Hurst, THE LOST THING - LOST AND FOUND Archived 22 April 2015 at , Digital Media World, 14 December 2010.
  7. Bill Desowitz, The Oscars: Finding 'The Lost Thing', Animation World Network, 18 February 2011.