The Arrival Book Focus

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

In this wordless graphic novel, Shaun Tan captures the immigrant experience through clear, mesmerizing images.  In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship.  He's embarking on the most difficult journey­ - he's leaving home to build a better future for his family.  The reader enters a strange new world, participating in the main character's isolation - and ultimately his joy.

"An astonishing wordless graphic novel blends historical imagery with science-fiction elements to depict-brilliantly-the journey of an immigrant man from his terror-beset land of origin to a new, more peaceful home. Sepia-toned panels and turn-of-the-last-century dress and architecture seem to place readers in familiar territory-but fantastical images, including monumental cities, various bizarre forms of air transport and distinctly alien animals serve to unsettle both protagonist and readers, plunging the latter into the unsettling and often terrifying experience of being alone in a new land. Perhaps the most ingenious touch is the use of a newly created alien alphabet printed everywhere-on signs, official papers, maps, etc.-which renders the literate entirely helpless. Frightening this new land may be, but there are friends everywhere, from the other immigrants who help the protagonist and tell their own tales of escape from oppression, war and fear to the whimsical beastie who attaches itself to him as his pet. Small panels move the story along; full- and double-page spreads provide dazzling panoramas. It's an unashamed paean to the immigrant's spirit, tenacity and guts, perfectly crafted for maximum effect." - Kirkus, starred review

"Haunting...a timeless stunner" - Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Beautiful, compelling...filled with both subtlety and grandeur."  -Booklist, starred review

"Readers will be fascinated." - School Library Journal, starred review

"Every school, every library should have this book on its shelves." - PaperTigers.org

Other praise for The Arrival:

"Shaun Tan's The Arrival...brings something new and exceptionally worthy to the form...For adults, Tan's new world offers a childlike sense of discovery; for children it offers an adult theme made eminently accessible.  Tan's lovingly laid out and masterfully rendered tale about the immigrant experience is documentary magically told by way of surrealism." - Art Spiegelman, author of Maus: A Survivor's Tale

"An absolute wonder.  It's not often you see art of this quality, or a book that's so brave." - Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis

"Shockingly imaginative, The Arrival is one of the best graphic novels of the year!" - Jeff Smith, author of BONE

"Shaun Tan's artwork creates a fantastical, hauntingly familiar atmosphere.  A strange, moving, and beautiful story." - Jon J Muth, author of Zen Shorts and illustrator of Sandman

"The Arrival is beautiful...endlessly detailed and wonderfully strange.  It perfectly captures the immigrant experience.  Bravo."  - Brian Selznick, author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret

"This magnificent work not only establishes itself in a major new literary genre but raises the stakes for anyone seriously considering working in it." - David Small, Caldecott Medalist for So You Want to be President

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