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The Arrival
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The Arrival

4.7 24
by Shaun Tan

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"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


"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

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for The Arrival

A New York Times Best Illustrated Book
Book Sense Book of the Year -- Honor Book
World Fantasy Award -- Best Artist
An ALA Top Ten Great Graphic Novel for Teens
A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book
A Publishers Weekly Best Book
New York Magazine's Top Comic Book
A School Library Journal Best Book

"Mesmerizing... Such visual eloquence can only motivate readers to seek out any future graphic novels from Shaun Tan, regardless of where they might be shelved." -- New York Times Book Review

"Astonishing." -- The Washington Post

"A wordless tour de force." -- Time Out New York Kids

* "A silent, fantastical masterpiece... Filled with both subtlety and grandeur, the book is a unique work that not only fulfills but also expands the potential of its form." -- Booklist, starred review

* "An unashamed paean to the immigrant's spirit, tenacity and guts, perfectly crafted for maximum effect." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "Few will remain unaffected by this timeless stunner." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

Elizabeth Ward
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.

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+)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.75(w) x 11.75(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Shaun Tan is the author and illustrator of the award-winning, bestselling graphic novel The Arrival, and also Tales from Outer Suburbia, a collection of illustrated short stories. Both books were named to the New York Times list of Best Illustrated Children's Books. He won an Oscar for his short film "The Lost Thing" based on a story in the book Lost & Found: Three by Shaun Tan, and he is also the recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award of his contribution to children's literature. Shaun Tan lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Customer Reviews

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The Arrival 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I ordered this based on reviews and apparently didn't pay attention to the fact there was no text. I was disappointed at first, but I was delighted to find such a well done story that needed absolutely no words at all. I loved looking through it, and have &quot;read&quot; it two times now. The artwork is beautiful and the story is easily understood. The beautiful thing about this book is there are no boundaries, anyone can enjoy it. They can speak any language, they don't even have to be able to read, which for this type of book is a powerful statement in itself. My children even enjoyed looking through it, great book. Especially for those who have, or has family that has, started their lives over in a totally unfamiliar place.
DebGC More than 1 year ago
It's evident that Shaun Tan did a terrific job at researching the reality of those families who have to migrate. His illustrations create, once more, fabulous worlds we wish we could live in one day. I felt related to the characters despite there are no words in the whole book. The illustrations of the cloud formations are simply phenomenal. Highly recommended, for all ages!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SerenityAlmeara More than 1 year ago
Sometimes a book is so unexpectedly stunning that it becomes something more - an experience instead of just a story. The Arrival is an example of such a book. It is useless to try to describe in words what this wordless graphic novel is like, so just know that it follows a man immigrating to a new world to create a better life for his family. Not only are the illustrations nothing short of stunning, but the story, too, is beautifully cyclical and familiar,  yet fantastically whimsical. Give yourself plenty of time to slowly turn through the pages and let the hypnotizing illustrations tell their story. 
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this wonderful tale about immigration to a new world, your imagination is instantly captured by the first picture. With stunning artwork and an intriguing storyline, this book is perfect for anyone who is looking for a fresh and unique book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw The Arrival at my children's elementary library. At first I just flipped through the pages but was quickly drawn into the book. There are no words but hundreds of pencil drawn images, laid out like a graphic novel. But this is way more than a graphic novel. It tells a story of fear, escape, and rebuilding of a life, and a family. The content could be applied to so many different situations as a reader shares it with young and old alike. I mailed this book to France where my daughter is building a new life away from home and the securities she is used to having. She loved it as well. The settings within the pictures are without a specific time or place, and leave it open to your imagination. It would make a great gift for anyone moving or rebuilding their life!
Mythicalreader More than 1 year ago
This book can be used in a variety of ways. Wordless books are a fantastic tool to use with students. Every page has a picture that someone can relate to. Don't miss looking at this book, it will provide you with a bunch of ideas of how to use it in a classroom.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Benz1966 More than 1 year ago
If someone had told me a year ago that I'd be branching out into graphic novels this year I would have laughed. I was first surprised by them when I began to read a Korean Manhwa named Goong. Then, just last week I fell in love with The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. And then yesterday I picked up The Arrival by Shaun Tan and didn't put it down until I'd finished it. Unlike Goong and Hugo Cabret, this book does not have words. Even the notes and signs are in a made-up language. The entire story is told in pictures - beautiful, sepia colored pictures. This is the story of a man leaving his family and his country behind (a country besot with terrors of its own) and finding a new place for them to live. It's a story of fear and hope, loss and gain, adventure and home. There is one moment - one set of pictures in this book that made me choke up and tears filled my eyes. When the man arrives in the strange country and opens his suitcase, an image appears that made me think of opening my suitcase for the first time after leaving home. That scent, the memories all seem to collide and you picture your family right there , for a moment it's captured and then it fades and just the items remain. At first I thought this might be science-fiction because there were so many strange elements. Alien looking creatures (as evidenced by the cover), strange methods of transportations.. and then as I got into the book I realized that the story being told here is how our country must look to those arriving in it. The sights, sounds, smells - everything assaulting our senses is different, new, amazing, thrilling and terrifying. Shaun Tan captured that so well in this book and through a story of pictures managed to tell a more captivating immigration story then I've ever actually read through written word.
Galleysmith More than 1 year ago
Stunningly illustrated I was awestruck by Tan's artistic ability. Immediately taken by the beauty of the story he'd presented I'd say my favorite pieces were those that showed the other-worldy almost ethereal feel of the locale. A land of sweeping loveliness the buildings and creatures that comprised it's inhabitants weren't to be feared but rather adored. Which is exactly what I did. Not to be outdone, the story Tan wrote in accompaniment is wonderful as well. I could feel the emotions so clearly displayed on the young father's face. From the trepidation of leaving his family behind to the jubilation of their arrival to meet with him in a new land I felt every beat he did. Traveling from the safety and security of his home and family into the unknown abyss of a new life the loneliness jumped off the page as the man searched for a job and made new acquaintances. Though I've not had much experience with this genre, I imagine that this is what any great graphic novel should do. Move the reader to feel and experience. If this is the case than Tan has certainly done so with The Arrival. All in all, I'm excited to have been introduced to the world of graphic novels in such an exemplary way. I'm looking forward to not only reading more of Tan's work but also other authors as well. I would encourage all to pick up this wonderful book and place it out for everyone to see.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cello More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my son's English class. It's no wards and all pictures. I think teacher must be ask student to write about the pictures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shaun Tan's book The Arrival is a fantastic read. The story is told entirely through pictures, and it invites discussion, questions, and exploration from readers of all ages and backgrounds.
Auburn1 More than 1 year ago
very sweet story told in pictures... beautiful art! great gift to kids & adults!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
christy_wooke More than 1 year ago
Amazing. An immigrant story with humanity at it's best. Despite the silly cover, I'd recommend buying this to anyone. The illustrations are, in both look and pacing, like a silent film. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i came across this book i read it like three times front to back i would highly recommend to anyone in a snap
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was rather taken aback when I discovered this book. After flipping through the first few pages, I discovered that there were no words. The book instead relies heavily on the artwork and weaves an intricate and moving story. I definitely need to reread it to catch more of the subtleties, and I would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone in search of a good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Arrival is different, in a spectacular way. The artwork is beautiful and the story is simple but memorable. This book proves that a good enough story doesn't need words to be told. The illustrations are full of magic and that somewhat familiar unfamiliar feeling. I am going to complain if this book doesn't win a major award.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Arrival' is not for the parent who wants to dump their child in front of an easy-reader. It's also not just a 'graphic book'. Open any page and feast on the sepia-toned art. Cuddle up on the couch, open any page and tell a new story together. Or start at the beginning and visualize a saga of the odyssey of arriving in a new world. Always a fresh view, complex and satisfyingly interesting. This is the book you can come back to with your children, over and over, then send it with them when they're grown, to build their own family tradition of storytelling.