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The Arrival Hardcover – October 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 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
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From 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. Karp, Jesse

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books; First edition (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439895294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439895293
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 9 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (292 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shaun Tan was born in 1974 and grew up in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. In school he became known as the 'good drawer' which partly compensated for always being the shortest kid in every class. He graduated from the University of WA in 1995 with joint honours in Fine Arts and English Literature, and currently works full time as a freelance artist and author in Melbourne.

Shaun began drawing and painting images for science fiction and horror stories in small-press magazines as a teenager, and has since become best known for illustrated books that deal with social, political and historical subjects through surreal, dream-like imagery. Books such as The Rabbits , The Red Tree, The Lost Thing and the acclaimed wordless novel The Arrival have been widely translated throughout Europe, Asia and South America, and enjoyed by readers of all ages. Shaun has also worked as a theatre designer, and worked as a concept artist for the films Horton Hears a Who and Pixar's WALL-E. He is currently directing a short film with Passion Pictures Australia; his most recently published book is Tales from Outer Suburbia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

262 of 273 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There are some books that come across my plate that strike me as mildly amusing. There are some books I develop a passion for over time. But once in a very great while, one per year if I'm lucky, I will find a book that gives me a powerful shock. An almost electric, instantaneous passion. "The Arrival" by Shaun Tan is the most amazing thing I've had the pleasure to read in years. A silent story of sequenced panels, "The Arrival" tells the story of a man's immigration to a strange new land, and the people and places he discovers in the course of finding a place to call home. I have never read any book that puts the reader so perfectly into the shoes of someone who finds themselves somewhere that is completely and utterly bewildering to the senses.

A man prepares to leave his family for a new world. Tearfully they let him go as he boards a ship for another land. Once he arrives, he finds himself at a loss. Everything from the language to the buildings to the birds is strange here. The reader of this book sympathizes easily with the man since author/illustrator Shaun Tan has created a world that is just as odd to us as it is to our protagonist. Appliances consist of confusing pulls and toggles. People live and work in plate and cone-shaped structures, traveling via dirigibles and strange ship-shaped machinations of flight. As the man proceeds to discover how to find lodging, food, and work, he meets other immigrants who tell their own stories of hardship and escape. Through all this, our man grows richer for his experiences and even grows to love the odd little white-legged cat-sized tadpole creature that follows him everywhere.
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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Chris Howard on October 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Shaun Tan's The Arrival may be the most beautiful book I've ever seen. The Arrival is a 128 page picture book that tells the story of an immigrant. It could be the story of any immigrant going to any new land, but it happens to be the story of a man heading off to a bizarre yet beautiful world that is so unfamiliar to anything that we know of today to set up a home for his wife and child. The food, the creatures, the jobs, the way of life, the way of's all new and bizarre and told beautifully through Tan's haunting, sepia toned artwork. Each villager that he meets has their own story of how they came to the land and what they left behind. What Tan presents is an homage to every migrant that's ever traveled to a new world and set up a new life for themselves. The story is told through pictures only - no words, and no words are needed. This is a beautiful book and I can't help but feel that every family should have a copy on their bookshelf.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By MG on October 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Shaun Tan's book is a feast for the eyes and a gentle reminder of the difficulties that everyone faces adapting to a new environment. My son just started middle school at a new school and this book was a lovely way of reminding him that change is hard for everyone, not just children. This book could just as easily be for adults however, as it's political overtones are clear: the drive to escape oppression, lack of freedom, and poverty.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Brendan on September 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I saw this book amongst a few Dr.Seus books on the shelf today. It hit me pretty hard when I started going through it. Me and my girlfriend are from vastly different countries with a language barrier, and this book hit on those feelings of displacement. We have both spent time feeling like an outsider in an alien land and without words this book conveys every little detail of the pain and hope of arrival. When we get back to my country I will buy this book immediately!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Heather L. Blake on September 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a librarian, I am familiar with the pros and cons of what is termed the 'graphic novel,' but to be honest have never seen such an argument for them. This book tells its tale entirely in pictures, no little 'bubbles' of thought to distract from its honest and beautiful theme...not that you need them. Its sepia-toned and varied artwork 'reads' almost like an old-fashioned film strip, the eye drawn from one to the next in a continuous story. I 'read' the story through in a few minutes, but there is so much gorgeous detail that I could spend a few minutes on each page. Each section feels like a separate work of art. Not to mention the extraordinary themes of sacrifices for love, overcoming the past, hope for the future, empathy with others, beauty in simplicity, and many many others. The perceptive reader will catch the references to the very real past of immigration and war among the fantastical, but even a younger reader may enjoy the story of the young man in a strange place, working to bring his family where there is still peace and beauty. This book shines like a jewel in a dark world. In my opinion, if there is any sense in the book-award-winning world, this will gain the shining accolades it well deserves. Buy it, read it, absorb it, read it again, and put its message into practice. The world will be a better place for the kindness of strangers.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jamie S. Rich on November 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
More often than not, wordless comics somehow inspire the reader to move faster rather than slow down and enjoy the view. Shaun Tan's sumptuously detailed drawings in THE ARRIVAL work to the opposite. I found myself holding the book out from my body so I could enjoy the images in full, lingering on a page or a sequence of panels and letting the enormity of the small moments the artist captures sink in and take effect.

This incredible book recasts the Ellis Island experience as a journey to a phantasmagorical land of strange languages, machines, and creatures, creating a delightful visual metaphor for the alien wonders of a new world, even when that world is part of our own, separated from us only by an ocean.

THE ARRIVAL is a stirring picture book of the best kind.
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