The Arrival
The Arrival
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Annotation: In this wordless graphic novel, a man leaves his homeland and sets off for a new country, where he must build a new life for himself and his family.
Catalog Number: #4752903
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Graphic Novel Graphic Novel
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition Date: 2007
Pages: 128
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-439-89529-4
ISBN 13: 978-0-439-89529-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2006021706
Dimensions: 31 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
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. (Graphic novel. 10+)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 7 Up Tan captures the displacement and awe with which immigrants respond to their new surroundings in this wordless graphic novel. It depicts the journey of one man, threatened by dark shapes that cast shadows on his family's life, to a new country. The only writing is in an invented alphabet, which creates the sensation immigrants must feel when they encounter a strange new language and way of life. A wide variety of ethnicities is represented in Tan's hyper-realistic style, and the sense of warmth and caring for others, regardless of race, age, or background, is present on nearly every page. Young readers will be fascinated by the strange new world the artist creates, complete with floating elevators and unusual creatures, but may not realize the depth of meaning or understand what the man's journey symbolizes. More sophisticated readers, however, will grasp the sense of strangeness and find themselves participating in the man's experiences. They will linger over the details in the beautiful sepia pictures and will likely pick up the book to pore over it again and again. Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

With this haunting, wordless sequence about a lonely emigrant in a bewildering city, Tan (The Lost Thing) finds in the graphic novel format an ideal outlet for his sublime imagination. Via pencil illustrations that resemble sepia photographs or film cels, Tan depicts a man’s poignant departure from his wife and daughter. Stark stone houses, treeless streets and rustic kitchen appliances imply past eras—the man leaves home via an outmoded locomotive and steamship—but strange visuals reveal this is not our everyday world. Shadowy dragon tails trawl the sky of the man’s homeland, suggesting pogrom or famine, and when he arrives at an Ellis Island-style port (the endpapers depict passport photos of multicultural travelers), his documents are stamped with cryptic symbols. He gets aboard an unmanned hot-air balloon that delivers him to a vast metropolis with unfamiliar customs and bizarre technologies (imagine, perhaps, a Gehry-designed city). Tan offers no written explanations on this foreign space, so readers fully grasp the man’s confusion when he lands a job pasting posters, then hangs them upside-down until his employer corrects him. Readers also understand his empathy for other exiles (each with their tragic stories of immigration) and with a friendly family that invites him to a meal of the local produce, which resembles exotic anemonae. In an oddly charming touch, each person has a distinctive animal companion, reminiscent of Philip Pullman’s daemons or Hieronymus Bosch’s alchemical creations. The man receives his own creature, a creepy-cute white monster with an egg-shaped torso, huge mouth and waving, eel-like tail; initially repulsed, he slowly warms to its amiable disposition. Just as gradually, his melancholy gives way to optimism and community as, despite setbacks, he benefits from the kindness of strangers. Tan adeptly controls the book’s pacing and rhythm by alternating a gridlike layout of small panels, which move the action forward, with stirring single- and double-page spreads that invite awestruck pauses. By flawlessly developing nuances of human feeling and establishing the enigmatic setting, he compassionately describes an immigrant’s dilemma. Nearly all readers will be able to relate—either through personal or ancestral experience—to the difficulties of starting over, be it in another country, city, or community. And few will remain unaffected by this timeless stunner. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Recipient of numerous awards and nominations in Australia, The Arrival proves a beautiful, compelling piece of art, in both content and form. Tan (The Lost Thing, 2004) has previously produced a small body of off-kilter, frequently haunting stories of children trapped in surreal industrial landscapes. Here, he has distilled his themes and aesthetic into a silent, fantastical masterpiece. A lone immigrant leaves his family and journeys to a new world, both bizarre and awesome, finding struggle and dehumanizing industry but also friendship and a new life. Tan infuses this simple, universal narrative with vibrant, resonating life through confident mastery of sequential art forms and conventions. Strong visual metaphors convey personal longing, political suppression, and totalitarian control; imaginative use of panel size and shape powerfully depicts sensations and ideas as diverse as interminable waiting, awe-inspiring majesty, and forlorn memories; delicate alterations in light and color saturate the pages with a sense of time and place. Soft brushstrokes and grand Art Deco style architecture evoke a time long ago, but the story's immediacy and fantasy elements will appeal even to readers younger than the target audience, though they may miss many of the complexities. Filled with subtlety and grandeur, the book is a unique work that not only fulfills but also expands the potential of its form.
Voice of Youth Advocates
A father must leave his family in a devastated land with only a slim hope that he will be able to gain employment in a bizarre and beautiful city across the sea. Stunning, powerful, gripping, moving-Tan's book is meticulously thought out and perfectly wrought, making use of both high-brow surrealism and extensive research into photographic records of immigrant stories. The story alternately displays Tan's heartfelt understanding of the dislocated existence of immigrants and his robustly imagined fantasy setting. The oversized book moves effortlessly from sepia-toned, quasi-photographic panels of heartbreak to double-page spreads of startling depth and creativity. The crafting is perfect, as panel sequences communicate action wordlessly, using, for example, a long series of cloudscapes to explain the tedious passage of time. But this cunning, careful artwork does not preclude the persistent throb of human warmth. Repeatedly the story tells of determination, of survival in hopeless times, of unexpected kindnesses, and always, always of love. Especially touching is Tan's imaginary population. In the bizarre cityscape he has imagined, every single person is an immigrant. In this world, the natives are the immigrants. Considering the terror that fuels debates about immigration throughout the western world, Tan's message is pointed and utterly relevant, not just to teens struggling with their own feelings of alienation, but to all humankind. It is an absolutely marvelous book.-Joe Sutliff Sanders.
Reading Level: WL
Interest Level: 7-12

"Tan's lovingly laid out and masterfully rendered tale about the immigrant experience is a documentary magically told." -- Art Spiegelman, author of Maus

"An absolute wonder." -- Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis

"A magical river of strangers and their stories!" -- Craig Thompson, author of Blankets

"A shockingly imaginative graphic novel that captures the sense of adventure and wonder that surrounds a new arrival on the shores of a shining new city. Wordless, but with perfect narrative flow, Tan gives us a story filled with cityscapes worthy of Winsor McCay." -- Jeff Smith, author of Bone

"Shaun Tan's artwork creates a fantastical, hauntingly familiar atmosphere... Strange, moving, and beautiful." -- Jon J. Muth, Caldecott Medal-winning author of Zen Shorts

"Bravo." -- Brian Selznick, Caldecott Medal-winning author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret

"Magnificent." -- David Small, Caldecott Medalist


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