THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan – Review for TWU course

BIBLIOGRAPHY Tan, Shaun. 2007. The Arrival.  New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books. ISBN 9780439895293.

PLOT SUMMARY

A wordless graphic novel that tells the story of an immigrant.  The story follows a man leaving his family and traveling to a new land where everything is foreign.  The confusion and frustration accompanying being an immigrant are portrayed well, even without words.  Follow the man’s journey into his new homeland.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS
The main character is a man who leaves his family and home to travel to a strange new land. While we’ve all done this to some degree or another, he enters a land where he does not know the language and customs are unfamiliar to him. Through him, we are able to identify with immigrants and how scary and overwhelming their lives are when new to a foreign country. Without words, Tan illicit a sense of concern about how he will survive and deal with the hardships.
Very believable, seen through the eyes of an immigrant. The creativity Tan uses in creating the setting, the language, people, creatures and customs foreign and alien to anyone who would read this, draws the reader in. Tan does an excellent job making the reading feel as an immigrant would, language totally foreign and alien, every letter, and every bit of asking for help. The difficulties encountered are well documented. As the story unfolds, it is a wonderful sense of accomplishment that I felt as the man started being able to communicate and get around and help others.  

This is a book that lends itself to repeated readings. The drawings are so detailed, that there is more to be gleaned with each reading. Something as simple as the title page sets the tone for the book to take off from. The title is in some unknown characters and the author’s name is in characters that are somewhat recognizable though altered. The rest of the book takes off from here, as the sense of being able to read “something” (author’s name) soon disappears.

Though this is a young adult book, I think it spans the age classification. Adults should definitely read this book to aid in giving empathy about the plight of immigrants. It could be any of us in a new situation or country and this book helps spread appreciation for being in that situation and for me, generates thinking on how I might make someone in that situation feel more comfortable. Highly recommended.
REVIEW EXCERPT(S)

New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award
2006 Cybils Award
Bologna Ragazzi Award, Special Mention
Spectrum Award
Junior Library Guild Selection
World Fantasy Artist of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2007
A New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2007
Amazon.com’s Best Teen Book of 2007
2007 Parents’ Choice Gold Award
A Book Sense Winter 2007-2008 Top Ten Children’s Pick
A New York Public Library Best Book for Reading and Sharing
A New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2007
Rocky Mountain News, A Top Ten Book of the Year
The Columbus Dispatch, A Best Book of 2007
Booklist Editors’ Choice 2007
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2007
A Washington Post Best Book for Young People for 2007
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon for Fiction
ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2008
ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, 2008
ALA Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2008
Horn Book Fanfare Book 2007
Metropolitan Home Magazine’s Design 100, 2008
An IRA Notable Book for a Global Society, 2008
2008 Locus Award, Best Art Book
2008 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, special citation for excellence in graphic storytelling
CCBC Choices 2008
Nominated for an International Horror Guild Award, Illustrated Narrative

Publishers Weekly, starred review  “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.”
Booklist, starred review “Soft brush strokes and grand art deco 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 both subtlety and grandeur, the book is a unique work that not only fulfills but also expands the potential of its form.” 

CONNECTIONS

The Arrival is an awesome lead in to a unit on immigration, studying Ellis Island and the people coming through.  Perhaps on what it takes to become a US citizen, learning some of the basic things required that many of us actually miss in school or take forgranted such as how bills are made, the judicial system, Constitution and more.
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