Hundreds of sepia-toned drawings, some tiny, some panoramic, all pulsing with detail, combine to produce an effect reminiscent of silent movies or mime, the absence of words forcing the eye and the brain to work harder. The Arrival is neck-and-neck with Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret for most original children's book of 2007, but unlike that uneven effort, it's definitely not just for the young.
The Washington Post
Gene Luen Yang
The cover of The Arrival, made to look like old, worn leather, establishes a family photo album motif that Tan faithfully carries through the entire book. Inside, borderless sepia panels are arranged in careful grids. Creases and unidentifiable splotches elegantly blemish many of the pages. Tan completely eschews motion lines, sound effects and any other comics storytelling devices that would not be found in photographs. Even the spaces between the panels suggest a photo album: instead of the pencil-thin gutters found in most graphic novels, he uses generous half-inch strips of yellowed paper. The effect is mesmerizing. Reading The Arrival feels like paging through a family treasure newly discovered up in the attic.
The New York Times
VOYA - Joe Sutliff Sanders
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.
Children's Literature - Wendy M. Smith-D'Arezzo
Told entirely in pictures, Tan's story shows a man's journey to a new land, his new experiences, and the people he meets. We follow this unnamed and unknown man from the packing of a family picture, accompany him on his good-bye walk through an unnamed city, and join him on the boat ride to his new home. Upon his arrival, there are many things that are familiar to him and to the reader, but there are plenty of new experiences for both: the weird looking animal that clearly becomes his pet, the box that transports him from place to place in the city, and the structure of the written language. Each of his new friends also has a story to tell; some have come to the new land with their families, and some have come alone; some come to try new things, and others come because of violence in their homeland; some arrive with many resources, and some, like our main man, come with almost nothing. The pictures are drawn with a sepia overtone, giving them the feel of ancient photographs. Small and large pictures are intermingled skillfully, giving the reader details as well as close up views of important events or people. This is a book that can be used with all age levels, although some of the violence depicted would work better with older elementary and middle school readers. It would be a welcome addition to any classroom that is studying immigration.
School Library Journal
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 AbbottCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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+)