Disability and Belonging in Shaun Tan’s <em>The Lost Thing</em>

  • Nicole Markotić
Keywords: Lost Thing, disability, picture books, cognitive difference


This essay looks at images of disability in Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing. The character of the lost thing, lost inside a world that clearly will not let it belong, represents the unrepresentable, while the boy narrator displays subtle depictions of cognitive difference. The lost thing’s body is incomprehensible for the very reason that it is so unlike the bodies of others. Although it may be tempting to read the boy narrator as dispassionate or as too emotionally detached because of his involvement with this uniform world, the protagonist gladly assists his new friend. As a different kind of thinker, the boy also does not quite fit in his world, even as he is not entirely separate from it.


DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2014.0021

Author Biography

Nicole Markotić

Nicole Markotić is a literature professor at the University of Windsor. She is author of three poetry books and two novels. Her scholarly interests range from representations of disability in children’s literature to feminist critical and body theory to twentieth-century Canadian and North American literature. She was poetry editor for Red Deer Press for six years, is currently a fiction editor for NeWest Press, has co-edited a collection of essays (The Problem Body: Projecting Disability on Film), and edited a collection of poetry by Dennis Cooley (By Word of Mouth). She is currently editing a collection of essays on Robert Kroetsch for Guernica.

How to Cite
Markotić, N. (2014). Disability and Belonging in Shaun Tan’s <em>The Lost Thing</em&gt;. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 6(2). Retrieved from http://jeunessejournal.ca/index.php/yptc/article/view/218