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The Arrival Hardcover – 2006
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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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*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 Decostyle 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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That's the big scale strategy. But the small scale approach, on a panel-by-panel basis, is equally wonderful. Even before the story really kicks in, and we still seem firmly grounded reality, the first three pages had me hooked. The art is beautiful, and visual story-telling clever and richly emotional.
This is really special. It does require a certain commitment and attention to follow along and place yourself in your story, so it may or may not be a good "children's book", but that would depend on the child.
Welcome to Shaun Tans' epic dreamlike journey in "The Arrival" a story of a man leaving his home and family to migrate to a new world. The artist goes into an explicit graphic narrative to describe the strangeness of immigrating to a new land. One gets the sense that this planned migration has been instigated by a government of totalitarian ilk as evidenced by the Artist's drawing of a shadow of a "tale of a dragon" which gives evidence of sinister governance.
The Author takes us into a world of epic art deco like scenery which is neither totally western nor eastern; in fact I see traces of Native American Indian influence. Our hero has to deal with a culture which is strange and different and we learn how he copes with dealing with people in a new land. His final hope is to finally reunite with his family in a land which he finds to be a refuge to many people from far and away.
This graphic depiction shows how an artist can convey an idea using simple pencil drawings and not using one word. Shaun Tan's art is not impressionistic, however the theme and structure of his story in the world of graphic literature is indeed impressionistic. This novel should never be thought of as a child's picture book. It uses advanced imagery and a high level nuanced story line using no prose. In reality it is the art of mime in the world of graphic imagery which in and of itself creates its own unique genre. Fanastic! 5 Stars!!