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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sarah bukowski
Beautiful illustrations! The actually quality of the book is very nice as well. However, the pictures create a way out there description of immigration. I get the gist of the story, but for the most part it was hard to follow and I lost interest. My children had no interest in it at all.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
seema devgan
I have to agree with the reviewers that just didn't find the magic in this book. I purchased it based on the reviews, and I must say that I was greatly disappointed.

I got the concept, I got the story line, but I missed any kind of a wow factor that so many saw.

The pictures were nice, the paper quality was great, but the book came apart from the spine after only a few weeks of being in my classroom. I teach junior high, and the book was not allowed to leave my room, so it was taken care of.

I thought my kiddos might really enjoy this book since so many are leaning toward the graphic novels lately. However, none of them really had any strong feelings about it either.

All in all it was ok...
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
drew dunlap
When completing reviews I try to shy away from overwhelming personal opinion and experiences, however for this product I fear that is not going to be the case. I purchased this book for a school assignment and it was relatively cheap and to be honest I wasn't really sure what to expect. The book however surprise me, as it was a complete picture book with no words and from what I gathered it covered the idea of immigration but the book very quickly touched on some topics that I found confusing and therefore had a difficult I'm following the story line. Because there were no words what you get from the book is purely up to the person reading it, and while the author or Illustrator in this case more than likely had a typical idea of what he or she was trying to get at a little bit of your interpretation lies solely on your shoulders. Typically this might not be an end of the world kind of situation or something that other readers out there might enjoy but I found it rather difficult especially in the context of having a class as my perception might be much different than the person sitting next to me is perception which might be very different than my professors perception. These are just things I noticed it was a good quality book with a nice pages was actually rather sick for a picture book and have quite a few little pictures that explain what was happening within the book. I believe whether or not you enjoy this book is based solely upon who is reading it, so while I can sit here and tell you about my experience for this product I can't really gauge how you will take it. So use this information to give you an idea of what the product is and then make a decision based on your preferences.
Obsidian (The Dragon Kings Book 1) :: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe :: Wee Sing Bible Songs (Wee Sing) CD and Book Edition :: More Than This :: A True Story from the Underground Railroad - Henry's Freedom Box
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yei martinez
This is a fascinating story with no words. To say "the pages are overflowing with art and interesting details to capture your imagination" feels like an understatement. I pick this book up and browse through the pages in no particular sequence just to absorb the images. My son has sat with the book and followed the story from beginning to end. This book powerfully conveys emotion. This is another book that I am thrilled to own, thrilled to share, and I am thrilled that there is someone making gorgeous books such as this! The actual book and binding feel very nice and substantial, which make it not only a pleasure to own but also a pleasure to give.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenni simmons
While I'm not a huge "comic book nerd," I have long championed the belief that comic books can be far more than mindless adolescent entertainment, and that there's far more to the genre than superhero action and Japanese manga. Nothing wrong with those two genres, but there have been so many other graphic novels that have proven that the graphic novel can be just as much a work of art as any other medium. Art Spiegelman's "Maus," Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis," and Guy Delisle's "Pyongyang" showed that the graphic novel can serve as a penetrating look into another culture and/or historical era, while Doug TenNapel's "Ghostopolis," Jane Yolen's "Foiled," and Jeff Smith's "Bone" series showed that the graphic novel can be used to tell epic fantasy or supernatural stories that don't involve superheroes swooping in to save the day. Like any genre, it can have its weaker entries, but I feel a work should NOT be dismissed as unintelligent drivel just because it's in a comic book format.

Shaun Tan's "The Arrival," at first glance, looked like a surreal fantasy. And in a way, it is. But it's also far more than that -- it's a new approach to showing the immigrant experience, and shows the reader just how alien a new homeland can look to one who has just arrived from far away.

"The Arrival" opens with a nameless man leaving his wife and daughter behind to travel to a new land, hoping to start a new life for his family. While the first few pages seem ordinary enough -- their homeland and their manner of dress look vaguely early-20th-century European -- right away we get clues that this is no ordinary immigrant story, as shadowy, draconian specters loom over their homeland. And the traveler's new homeland is unspeakably alien -- bizarre new animals, weird writing, a language he can't understand, and architecture and technology that's both fascinating and totally unfamiliar. The immigrant struggles to fit in, to find lodging and employment, but thankfully he finds helpful people who are willing to lend a newcomer a hand. And as he finds his place and strives to make a new home in this strange land, he learns the stories of other immigrants, and what drove them to abandon their homes and forge new lives in a new, strange land.

The artwork in this book is superb, managing to tell an engrossing story without words (really, aside from the title and obligatory copyright-and-library-information page there's no text at all). Done in sepia and gray tones to mimic old-time photographs, it somehow manages to meld the look of the Ellis Island immigrant days with creatures and architecture from an alien fantasy land. I know some reviewers were put off by the juxtaposition of the immigrant experience with such fantastic elements, but the art was well-done enough that these elements didn't clash for me. There's a slight Uncanny-Valley look to some of the pictures, as the people are drawn realistically but sometimes turn out dead-eyed or oddly expressionless, but I can forgive this.

More than just being pretty, though, the art and pictures really drive home the immigrant experience -- namely, that it's terrifying for someone to uproot their entire lives and move to an entirely new country, where everything is new and strange. Being born and raised in the United States and never having traveled outside my home country, I can only imagine how frightening and unsettling it must be for a newcomer to this country to have to adjust to a new culture, a new language, and maybe even new technology. While books about the Ellis-Island days do a good job of portraying the facts of the immigrant experience, this is the first book I've come across that puts the reader in the immigrants' shoes, and tries to capture the feeling of the experience. And I think Tan succeeded admirably at this.

Some reviewers have complained that this book was not what they were expecting, and I will add that if you're looking for a factual book about Ellis Island or any other immigrant stories, this isn't the right book. What it does is perfectly capture the EXPERIENCE, the feelings of being in a foreign land and trying to adjust to bizarre new circumstances in order to build a better life. And for that reason I highly recommend that book as a supplement to anyone learning about the immigrant times and experiences for themselves. And it's beautifully and imaginatively drawn as well.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauren king
It's gorgeous. It's more of a graphic novel than a children's book due to the length. Older children would probably appreciate it more than younger ones. It's wordless, though, so you can't really read it to your kids. It has beautiful pencil drawings. The story is basically a man leaving his home country, leaving his daughter and wife behind, to go to a new land. He is escaping something, but it's never clear quite what.

Everything takes place in a fantastical world. The new land is full of possibility and beauty. The wordless drawings capture the potential and amazement of moving to a new land, but also the loneliness, isolation, homesickness and difficulty communicating with people. As he goes through the story, he meets many other immigrants who have been there longer and show him the ropes. At the end, his family joins him and it comes full circle as his young daughter shows a new immigrant how to get somewhere on her map. It's very touching and beautiful.

For more children's book reviews, see my the store profile for my website.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elizabeth adducci
You do not need words when you have a talent as loud as this.

Shaun Tan has, in fact, rocked the charts and souls alike with the poignant way of life of an immigrant.

Working hard, toiling under the sun and those sorrowful nights are all acceptable - when you see your family smile.

Believe me, it's that smile on your wife's face when you return home that makes you work harder. Win more.

You might be a CEO or a construction helper, at the end of the day you want to come to a happy family.

With evoking illustrations, isolation and the loneliness are well nourished. It is a novel that holds you by the scruff of the neck and makes you read the mesmerizing pages until the very last.

And all that - without speaking.

Shaun Tan, you genius !
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nick purvis
Words are inadequate. Although you could make as good a case for it being a picture book as a comic book, it does come up in discussing comics, and a complex conversation on The Arrival goes like this:

1st person: Or The Arrival!
2nd person: Yes!
1st person: I know, right?

A simple conversation eliminates most of that verbiage for sharp inhalations or exhalations, plus looks.

That probably sounds pretty silly, but it I think it is a natural result of having experienced the book. I know I said I "read" it earlier, but there are no words in the book; it is all pictures.

In The Arrival a man says goodbye to his family and travels to a new land, finding work, making acquaintances, and missing his family. Tan gets fanciful in creating many of the basics. The mode of transportation is something we have never seen. In the new land foods, musical instruments, and pets all look strange. You understand what their purpose is from the context, but you can't recognize them. There is no text to give you guidance.

There are still many things that are familiar. We recognize the need to eat, and how it feels to miss family, how it heals to make friends, a love for animals, and the joy of reunion. Because there are no words, there is no need for translation.

I don't know if it is completely universal. There is a visual reference to The Bicycle Thief that a lot of people might miss, though missing it would take nothing from the story. If you live in a small village where no one ever leaves, surrounded by generations, it might feel different than if you live in a country with a long history of immigration. Still, I think a lot is universal.

The artwork simultaneously brings to mind old sepia photographs and Hieronymus Bosch, but in the front and back there are very realistic portraits based on immigrants who came through Ellis Island, just as many other pictures are based on the Ellis Island experience.

No one in my family came from there. On my father's side, everyone came through during colonial times, before there even was a United States of America (except for the Huguenot line; their path was a little more complicated, and diverted through Canada first). My mother married a descendant of those many colonists, leaving Italy as a young bride long after Ellis Island had closed.

I still feel connected to those faces. Our humanity connects us, and our need to survive and do hard things and seek something better. If my ancestors came in different ways, they still came.

So in using his art to bring up both the familiar and the strange, Tan gets us to share in his protagonists disorientation, but also in his longing and in his hope, and to touch on those familiar emotions in us.

Having this emotional experience without words makes these incoherent "conversations" that readers have with each other the most sensible exchanges possible. What we mean is that we felt things, and as we felt them strictly through visual means, without words, that is the most basic level of relating to it. We show it in our faces and we breathe.

The story that The Arrival tells is worth seeing, but it is also worthwhile just to get that example of how powerful images can be. The Arrival shows us what pictures can do.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The arrival is a must for any graphic book lover, a wondrous piece of Art that engages the reader from the very cover.

There are many reasons why I consider this a jewel and a must have. The first one, is the quality of Tan's drawings and artistry. Each page, each image, each vignette is a masterpiece of its own regarding technique, detail and creativity. The drawings and images are drawn with a chilling beautiful virtuosity. The illustration is done in a very warm dark-brown and cream duotone, which conveys the overall faux-vintage feeling of the book.

The second one is the fact that the book has a narrative that is universal in nature that uses multiracial characters and alien beings (the tiny monsters). I think it can be understood no matter your culture of origin. The images convey meaning with the need of any word being uttered. Tan does so in a masterly way.

The third is the story itself. This is a story of immigration and challenges in a new foreign land. A story that million of people have lived, are living and will live. I am an immigrant, so the book directly speaks to me. Many of the images reminded me of the early 1920-1950s when million of emigrated from Europe to the States or Australia. Tan's land of arrival is incomprehensible and mysterious. The story is universal because Tan has the ability of distilling real immigration stories and experiences into something that is full of meaning, respects the reality that immigrants face but is full of hope, and shows well how the arrival is also a process of inner transformation and learning to relate in different ways.

The fourth is the wondrous mix of real and surreal elements in the story in a very functional way. This is Tan's specialty and he does so with great easiness and mastery. Tan creates wonderful magic creatures that interact with humans with normality, and vice versa, as if the world was an harmonious mismatch of all sort of beings.

I truly love this book. I don't get tired of it. I revisit it often. Wonderful.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karen schoessler
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
leonora marie
Not a single word here.......just a beautifully illustrated picture story that communicates to the reader the heartbreaking separation of an immigrant family.

In one man's travels across the ocean to an unfamiliar land, his struggles are apparent to connect to an unknown people, to find work and earn a living so a desperate father can provide for and be reunited with his wife and daughter.

Wonderfully portrayed images induce the reader to envision a difficult life with hope for a better future.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Will Eisner argues in Comics and Sequential Art that "comics communicate in a "language" that relies on a visual experience common to both creator and audience" (1). A superb example of the communication of reader and artist by way of visuals alone is Shaun Tan's wordless and breathtaking The Arrival. Tan's tale centers on an unnamed immigrant man who arrives in an alien world with an inability to speak the language, relying on, for instance, hand-drawings of a bed (39) and a loaf of bread (59) to ensure his vital needs are met. Through painful misunderstandings, the man begins to understand and successfully interact with the new country. His journey is fraught with puzzling abstractions, forming an alienating and universal portrait of all immigrant experience by including profound--if infrequent--cultural signifiers and demanding the `reader' supply the rest.
In Comics and Sequential Art, Eisner contends that "comprehension of an image requires a commonality of experience" (7). By creating a world largely devoid of signifiers of the modern world--everything from fruits and vegetables to buildings and pets (the protagonist's personal pet is a jaunty pollywog/Pacman creature) is changed--Tan captures the anxiety of moving to a new country where nothing is inherently known, yet there must be some visual cues for the `reader' to attach their understanding. Eisner emphasizes the use of symbolic images designed to speak to a reader as text would, as in his A Contract with God "a stone is imply permanence and evoke the universal recognition of Moses' Ten Commandments on a stone tablet" (4). The inclusion of such symbolically recognizable objects is of great importance in The Arrival. By implementing what Eisner would call "the addition of style and the subtle application of weight, emphasis and delineation..." (9) Tan creates meaning out of the unknowable. There is, for instance, an entity resembling dragon tails is interwoven between the buildings of Tan's protagonist's homeland (7-8). The image itself is cryptic but in context, it seems a potent visual metaphor for the insidious and omnipresent stress of war-time occupation. This imaginative representation of war-time evil is balanced with the inclusion of instantly relatable images like the immigrants actual arrival on pages 23-24 that conjures up images of Ellis Island or a similar locale.
Ultimately The Arrival coincides with Eisner's assertion that "the reading of a graphic novel is an act of both aesthetic perception and intellectual pursuit" (2). There are no words and the environs depicted are often unfamiliar, so the The Arrival must be actively decoded, instead of simply read. Eisner is quite apt, then, when he states that, "common experience and a history of observation are necessary to interpret the inner feelings of the actor [in comics]" (20) although, in The Arrival, common experience is necessary to interpret not only the actor but the setting itself, a bizarre altered universe with only intermittent anchors of the world as we know it to inform images of say, enormous, pillaging nightmare men with Industrial people-absorbing power tubes (66-67) as specters of war or dragon-like hedge monsters as guard dogs (89). Without the powerful placement of integral, relatable images, the reader would be as lost in interpretation as the protagonist as he attempts to understand where indeed he has arrived.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sam battrick
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. By the end, his family has arrived as well and the last image in the book is of his daughter as she helps another immigrant get directions in this dazzling and magnificent city.

Sometimes you fall in love with a book when you remember all the tiny details and little moments in it. At one point our hero looks in a pot and sees a spiked tail of a boy's pet. The man is shocked and frightened and has to explain that he comes from a land where spiked tails have a horrific significance. Another time you get quick easy-to-miss little glimpses of everyday street scenes. A couple loading gigantic eggs into a cart on a street. A man getting a shave as a family of dog-sized hermit crabs scuttle underfoot. Street musicians surrounded by foxlike birds playing instruments you've never seen before. The book can feel like it's excerpting scenes from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari one moment and then In America the next. And I've rarely seen an illustrator capture images of laughter, real honest-to-goodness laughter, any better Tan has here. On his website, the artist credits much of his research to a variety of books about the immigrant experience, to say nothing of his father's memories of coming to Australia from Malaysia, interviews Tan conducted himself, and photographs that have found their way into this title as well.

In another part of his website, Tan explains that in this book, "the absence of any written description also plants the reader more firmly in the shoes of an immigrant character." Tan is undoubtedly at his best when he allows the reader the chance to feel the sense of wonder and confusion that comes from immersing yourself in a culture you're unfamiliar with. At one point our hero has dinner with a charming family. They eat odd spiky dishes that are prepared with unfamiliar torches. They play instruments you've never seen before and speak of escaping unimaginable, almost metaphorical, horrors. You are the main character in this book. His confusion is your confusion, and quite frankly he seems to adapt to his surroundings far better than I think most of us could. The language you encounter at all times is indecipherable. Even the clocks and the forms of transportation are magnificent and frightening. Yet at the same time, many of the people the man encounters are kind and try to help him navigate about. Tan knows too that if he makes the familiar just a little bit unfamiliar, that alone can confuse someone. So when the immigrants pull into a harbor, they see two large statues shaking hands in lieu of The Statue of Liberty.

I loved the animal companions that latch on to the humans in this book. They reminded me of Philip Pullman's, His Dark Materials daemons, though if they have any kind of spiritual significance it's left to the reader to determine what that might be. As Tan says on his site, "I am often searching in each image for things that are odd enough to invite a high degree of personal interpretation, and still maintain a ring of truth." He is not interested in the kind of symbolism where one object will stand for only one thing. He prefers to let people interpret his pictures in whatsoever way they prefer. If you feel these strange little animal companions are meant to symbolize how a person adapts to their new location, so be it. Tan isn't going to tell you what to think. He's just going to give you a helluva story and then let you do the rest yourself.

The art itself is phenomenal. Every language you see in this book is obviously made up, but no two languages you see here look the same. I repeat: You can tell the differences between separate imaginary languages. The realism of the style makes each picture look like a grainy sepia photograph taped inside a photo album. In fact, Tan has said that, "I was also struck with the idea of borrowing the `language' of old pictorial archives and family photo albums I'd been looking at, which have both a documentary clarity and an enigmatic, sepia-toned silence. It occurred to me that photoalbums are really just another kind of picture book that everybody makes and reads, a series of chronological images illustrating the story of someone's life." So many of the memories in this book have a buckled quality to their corners. They look bent or pasted into the book in some way. There are wrinkles and tears and pieces that have flaked off over time. The quality of the sepia changes too. Sometimes the story is black and white, sometimes a golden honeyed-brown. In one sequence an old man remembers marching off to war. When going through a town the pictures appear in warm tones. Then we watch just the man's feet as they step over rocks and streams and the dead, and the palette grows darker and starker until we've just the blurred image of feet running. There's a quick view of the men attacking and then a single full page spread of black and white bones in a field.

I didn't realize it at first, but I've been a fan of Shaun Tan's work for years. In 2003 I was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota during a time when their main library branch was undergoing renovations. On a whim I visited their off-site location and wandered through their children's room, looking for anything good. And there, standing all by its lonesome in the center of the space, was a striking picture book entitled, The Rabbits by John Marsden, illustrated by Shaun Tan. It was like nothing I'd ever read before. Published by the always magnificent Simply Read Books, the story was a crushing description of a native group of aboriginal animals destroyed utterly and totally by an invading society of rabbits. The words were heartbreaking in and of themselves, but the illustrations were the real draw. They contained magnificent intricate details hidden within page after page of text. Shaun Tan is like an industrialized and roughened William Joyce. His societies are full of dirt and muck and unspoken unstated horrors. They can reek of displacement more effectively than fifty pages of text could ever convey. So while "The Arrival" felt familiar to me, I didn't immediately associate it with its creator's former works. The feel of vast unfamiliar cityscapes is still present, but Tan leavens this latest offering with his human figures.

It seems almost unfair to the other publishers that Scholastic would have the wherewithal to publish not only this book but also Brian Selznick's, The Invention of Hugo Cabret in the same year. Scholastic has been especially good lately at locating books with strong visual narratives and adding them to their catalog. From the re-released colorized versions of Jeff Smith's Bone series to Raina Telegemeier's graphic novel adaptation of The Baby-Sitters Club, Scholastic is pushing the envelope time and again. My deepest hope is that "The Arrival" finds its audience. Because I could write paragraphs and paragraphs more about the meticulous details and searing personal portraits found in this story, I'll just cut myself off now. Be sure to corner me at a party sometime, though, and I'll wax eloquent for days on end if you let me.

It takes a deft hand to draw a book that can tell an emotionally resonant story without a single word and that works entirely in the medium of pictures. Shawn Tan says that "Even the most imaginary phenomena in the book are intended to carry some metaphorical weight..." I cannot praise this book highly enough then. Every story, every face, and every person in this book feels as if they carry the with them a thousand memories. You read this book in no doubt that Tan's research and personal history has given "The Arrival" the hardest thing any novel can have; a soul. The best book published in America in 2007.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
andrea jones
Prior to experiencing this book, I didn't think it was possible to tell a complete, satisfying story using only pictures. I don't read graphic novels, but this one is something really special. It portrays the immigrant experience in a surprisingly original way. It doesn't depict any specific countries. Instead it shows the universality of the experience of going to a foreign country, filled with hope for a better life, and finding absolutely everything is alien to you. I especially liked the message the book conveys about how important it is for immigrants who are settled in to offer a welcome and assistance to new arrivals.

The artwork is amazing, not cartoonish like you might expect from a picture book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
There's so much praise surrounding this book that I was afraid it wouldn't live up. So silly were my concerns!

This book is so beautiful, both for the eyes as well as the soul. It's a wordless tale of immigration and how scary and wonderful it can be.

I love the friendships that are built, the dedication and hard work that's portrayed, and the sense that you can succeed if you are willing to try hard enough.

You do have to engage yourself with this type of book. And as expressive as Tan's illustrations are, you do have to work a tiny bit to figure it all out. But, I think that's part of the beauty, because you bring something of yourself to the tale.

I realized part way through why (at least, why I think anyway) the illustrations made the animals, plants, and places so alien. Then I realized that Brian Selznick, another author I adore, had said the same thing: "I loved how it slowly dawned on me that this bizarre world was how any immigrant might see the new place they go... everything is different and scary and magical." This is precisely how I felt, and it made me even more empathetic with the characters. A very clever a choice, I think. And a very, very incredible book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
caro l pez
The Arrival works on so many levels that it's hard to peg it to just one. Perhaps at its heart it is a children's tale, an illustrated epic easy to follow along in pictures. But the idea of loss--from the opening montage of a man leaving his family behind while he goes off in search of something new in a foreign land--and the emotion behind it will resonate more with adults. Tan, whose previous works include the excellent The Red Tree and The Lost Thing, gives life to his protagonist's fears and trepidations through a rich symbolism invented in the artwork: shadows, lettering, strange creatures. What it all means adds up to the fear of the unknown every stranger in a strange land faces. What lies around any given corner may be amazing opportunity or danger . . . and there's no way to find out until you make the journey.

That kind of uncertainty is depicted in the odd-looking little creature who greets the protagonist in this new land (shown on the cover). Is it a friendly type of dog or some vicious animal?

Tan's gift for creating shading and depth gives each image a lush, 3D quality, and he even creates playful, moving connotations by arranging the panels of the book's opening like a photo album, complete with slightly rounded corners. They look almost taped into place. The reader reminisces about generations gone by, parents, grandparents, or even further back into history, to think of the many heartbreaking ways people leave their families behind in search of a new life and a opportunity to create a new family elsewhere.

Every one of Tan's images is a story unto itself, so words are hardly necessary here. What would they add to, say, the delicate rendering of the young girl regarding the protagonist's suitcase on the morning he is about to leave? The picture alone conveys everything that needs to be said.

The Arrival is one of those works that withstands repeated readings well. There's always something new or unexpected to be encountered, something you missed the last time around. It never loses that sense of magic and wonder either.

-- John Hogan
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The creativity and beauty embodied in this book literally leaves me speechless. I cannot find the proper words to do the book justice, so my review title is as uncreative as this book is its opposite.

There's not a single word in this book. If you don't like reading, definitely pick this one up. It's one I am going to add to my library as soon as I get the chance.

However, the pictures really flow seamlessly, and the lack of text actually gives you room for interpretation. Where novels utilize the reader's mind to create images and pictures through its words, 'The Arrival' gives the reader freedom of exploration through its pictures. We are allowed to venture into a fantastical world, to dig deep into our personal experiences and emotions, and to search for subtle clues and details in the pages filled with visual goodies. The pictures essentially run like scenes from a silent film, but their intensity virtually fills your other senses as well.

The page that shows the mug shots of the man at the interview is absolutely incredible. It leaves you just as confused and frustrated as the expressions you see on the contorted face, one frame after another.

Though there may be no text in this book, you can pore over the pages for hours, marveling at the sensational creatures in an alien world, or the poignant narrative told through the eyes of an immigrant.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jamie navarro
I am so lucky. I have an excellent friend, a best friend, who knows I appreciate unique stories and beautiful things, and when you put the two together you have something really special. She saw 'The Arrival' and knew I would love it and gave it to me. And she was right -- I never expected it, but I absolutely love it.

On one level, 'The Arrival' is a simple, fairly common story, one we've heard many times before in other ways, from other people. A man leaves his home and family in a frightening place to try and make his way in the world, and to support the ones he loves best. He moves to a new country, a bustling metropolis of hope. He struggles. He meets new people and experiences new things. He learns. Things change and he adapts. It is a familiar story, to be sure.

What makes 'The Arrival' different is Shaun Tan's beautiful illustrations, and the way he uses the images to tell the story without the needs for any words -- no narration, no dialogues, no accompanying text. Even the words seen on signs and books are written in an unrecognizable language, which only help you, the reader, share the main character's initial frustration as he makes his way in a new place. But the illustrations are of such many cases I found myself getting lost in the details of Tan's remarkable black-and-white pictures, exploring these cities and landscapes and pathways, noticing details, marveling at wonders. The illustrations are simple yet powerful, suggestive of much greater depths than 10,000 words might have conveyed in the same space. Shaun Tan found a new way to tell an old story...with strong, fanciful, imaginative art. And for this, it works perfectly.

Can a story be told without words? Can ideas be conveyed without sentences and grammar? Shaun Tan not only proves that they can, with 'The Arrival' he proves that it can be done elegantly and beautifully, and that the use of words would only take away from the story he's told, and the way he has told it.

This is powerful imagining, and I am so very lucky that my friend knew to share it with me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Ethereal, yet poignant; enigmatic, yet universal--Shaun Tan's graphic novel "The Arrival" draws the "reader/viewer" into a strange and foreign world as seen from the viewpoint of a man who leaves his poor family and home country, and travels to a new world looking for better life. The nameless man in this wordless novel must learn to cope in this odd and confusing world where he doesn't understand the language, or even weird foods and creatures. He encounters a bizarre-looking tadpole-shaped white animal who loyally remains with him throughout all of his adventures. He takes on the daunting task of finding lodging, food and employment in a huge industrialized city unlike anything he has ever seen. Or could imagine!

Along the way he meets up with some fellow emigrants who share their own stories with him, and, in that way, they form a bond of understanding. Each fellow traveler has apparently escaped from his or her own terrifying and dangerous situation to come to this "new world". Some of these pictures depict a landscape reminiscent of post-war Europe. I noticed that the three to six page mini-bios of the others is set off in the book with a darker frame. This helps keep the "flow" of the story comprehensible. One family in particular befriend the "arriver" in the book, and extend to him a sense of belonging which, after all, is the human need that every person in every country needs most.

I love the art work. The elaborately detailed pencil drawings communicate the overwhelming plight that the immigrant must deal with in a way that words could not, I think. Tan obviously put a tremendous amount of thought and work into these astonishingly imaginative illustrations. Some of the frames are like stop-action film. They slow the narrative down so that one can focus in on the process he goes through. Some offer a meditation of small details along his travels--such as twenty-five small frames of clouds seen along the boat trip. Then, again, some offer huge sweeping vistas of the confusing new world--vast city-scapes.

Eventually his wife and daughter are able to rejoin him. This helps him further to establish roots in his new home. Soon thereafter, he sends daughter out to buy some food (with the doggy-like friend)and she encounters a woman puzzling over a map. The girl, who by now is somewhat acclimated, stops to help the woman, who is a new "arrival", and points the way for her, and thus the cycle repeats. It is, for me, a very satisfying way to end the story.

This is a book to be savored and re-read. The stark and often dark pictures belie a beautiful story that puts the reader into a frame of contemplation. Mr. Tan confronts the universal issue of "strangers in a strange world", and how we form a sense of belonging as we connecting with each other and learn to negotiate the strangeness of the world.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
heather pucillo
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I wasn't expecting it to be all pictures and no words; not to say that detracted from the book. This was actually a wonderful and thought provoking book, and it was better for its lack of words. Without language as a barrier I think anyone from any culture could get some understanding from this book. In the epilogue it mentions that Tan spent 4 years researching all of the drawings and stories that made up this book and it shows.

This book depicts the story of a man who leaves his family to travel to a fantastical alien place. He is trying to find work at that place, and have many of the problems you would expect of a person plopped into an alien society.

The pictures in the book are beautiful and the land the man visits truly fantastic. Despite all the alien-ness of the place though you see the main character gong through many troubles that any immigrant goes through. The book is surprisingly griping and you really feel for the characters. Even more surprising are the little bits of humor throughout, they make the book even more human.

To add depth to the story a number of the characters that the main character bumps into also have their back-stories depicted. It really is proving a point about how people end up in the beautiful alien world and what they've suffered to get there.

So I liked this book on a number of levels. All by itself it is an interesting story depicted with beautiful pictures; a tale of a journey to a far away land. On another level it makes a statement about immigration and what people who immigrate to a new world have suffered through and continue to suffer. The story is by no means depressing through, it is humorous and heartfelt. The lack of words makes it enjoyable to all ages. My 2 year enjoyed looking through it with me (although I don't think he got as much out of it as I did) he found the different worlds interesting and had lots of questions to ask about the characters. Believe or not he made it through the whole thing with me.

I got this from the library but I will definitely be acquiring a copy to keep in my library. I will definitely be checking out more of Shaun Tan's works.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dave eck
I've seen great things about this book for some time and was looking for a quick and easy read so finally picked it up. It's like a graphic novel but doesn't have any words. The pictures really express a lot of emotion and it's easy to understand what's happening and how the characters are feeling just from the graphics.

I loved the bizarre world the author painted and it really worked to illustrate the confusion a person feels when they're in a new place. Although I've never immigrated, I have lived abroad, so it was really personal to read it and remember how it was to feel similar emotions when I was in new places.

There wasn't a ton of character development or plot but that wasn't the point. It was mostly like a dreamy adventure. Even if you've never been through the things the main character experiences, I think you can still get something out of this book. It's a quick read with beautiful pictures that you can easily read in one sitting so I recommend you check it out!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
june kornatowski
At some level, every book about immigrants lets you watch their story from the outside. After their arrival, they work hard to learn to cope in a world that the reader is already familiar with. In "The Arrival," however, Shaun Tan turns this view inside out. His immigrants travel to a land that is modeled on America, but is fabulously alien and incomprehensible. Weird statues jut out of the harbor. People speak in languages that cannot be understood. The alphabet is strange, the technology is miraculous, the architecture and clothing is otherworldly. Tan 's imaginary America is as wondrous, weird and terrifying as Oz on steroids. Tan tells the story without words, in the silent language of unshared language. His images are sepia-toned and sometimes cracked like photos pulled out of an old shoe box. His story-telling is sublime. He tells the story of a long ship passage by showing two pages of cloud pictures. His stories are poignant and frightening. His hero, a man who travels to America to prepare a place for his wife and daughter, flees in a dark Eastern-European world in which dragon tails (symbolizing tyranny or persecution) streak the sky. He meets other characters with tales as chilling as his own.

A fabulous book whose pantomime is easy to understand, and which allows native Americans to feel what it must be like to experience a telephone, subway, mailbox, pet dog, cucumber or hot shower for the first time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Shaun Tan was born and grew up in Australia. He has illustrated The Red Tree, The List Thing, and The Viewer and Memorial written by Gary Crew. Using a unique art style and form that seems modern but still comprehensible, it immediately catches the eye, making the viewer "read" on. In Tan's latest work, The Arrival, he has outdone himself with a unique story of immigration and insertion into a new and very different culture.

The world is filled with different and diverse cultures, and when people immigrate to another culture, it is a very hard and trying life event to either be assimilated, or simply to fit in with this new culture. The many citizens of the United States have known this for centuries, while many these days are still dealing with the problem of how to keep their own culture alive, but to also be a part of the culture they live in. While some can understand and sympathize with people of different cultures who go through this great change, it varies from culture to culture as to what their lives will be like.

Tan has taken a unique step here in making The Arrival a story of immigration into a new culture universal and understandable to everyone, whatever cultural background they come from. A father must leave his wife and children and journey to a new country, get a job, and begin his life there. When he is ready, the rest of his family will join him. Except this is an alien world, with weird shapes and objects, people look strange, there are unusual creatures everywhere, and travel is done somehow by hot air balloon. There is a type of symbolic writing that seems uninterpretable to the naked eye. So the reader begins the journey with the man, trying to comprehend what is going on, what people are saying to him, trying to get by each day with some kind of understanding.

The result is a very special story that has incredible art from an alien world which is fascinating and enchanting, but at the same time is telling the story of the plight of the many over hundreds of years who have immigrated and begun their life over in a new culture with new and different ways.

Originally written on December 2nd, 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.

For over 500 book reviews and exclusive author interviews, go to [...].
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paul segal
Shaun Tan, The Arrival (Arthur A. Levine, 2007)

There's a single panel, towards the end of Chapter 2 of Shaun Tan's remarkable graphic novel The Arrival, that sums up a great deal of what you need to know about the book. Previously, a man has left his wife and daughter behind to emigrate to a new land, where everything is unfamiliar to him. When, despite the cultural and language barriers he faces, he manages to find lodging, he pulls out his suitcase and opens it. Instead of the things he packed, what we see is his wife and daughter, sitting and eating a meal alone in the house he used to share with them. Everything about the scene is rendered in exquisite detail, and it's a perfect synecdoche for Tan's approach to his material here; the fabulist attitude laced with a hefty dollop of surrealism, the feel of how it is to be a stranger in a strange land, and Tan's sure hand with his illustrations, right down to the way he gives us the kind of cracking you see on old photographs.

As our nameless protagonist journeys through the city, he meets other immigrants, and he assimilates culturally by listening to their own stories of what it was like to emigrate from their homelands to this wonderful city where all of them have ended up. Tan tells a universal-- clichéd, perhaps-- story in such a unique way that I would think it impossible not to be charmed. This is fine, fine work indeed, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. You need to read this book. *****
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The thing I really like about graphic novels is that you can usually read them in less than an hour. There are notable exceptions, of course, such as Alan Moore's The Watchmen. But most of the time, they read fast. I finally gave The Arrival a viewing, and it's quite an intriguing read.

The problem with describing it is that it's wordless. Much of the content is up to the viewer. You can make a guess as to what is happening or what is represented. Then, in about a year, you could look at it again and have a new take.

From what I can tell, this is the story of an immigrant that comes to a new land. We don't know why, only that he decides to pack up his bags and travel to a new home. He leaves a spouse and a daughter behind with great sadness. You can tell this parting brings them all pain. You can tell because of the drawings Shaun Tan made. Each one is packed with emotional punch.

I can only assume the immigrant is coming to America, although you wouldn't know it at first glance. To give us a sense of what it must be like for an immigrant, Tan creates a world in which nothing makes sense. There are strange symbols, pets, and foods. As the people on the boat arrive at the dock, they don't see the Statue of Liberty. Instead, they see a statue of two men shaking hands. On their shoulders are two animals, and one man holds a fruit. This is Tan's stroke of genius. He allows us to feel what immigrants must feel when they enter a strange country. No words are readable; no speech can be understood. Every vision is unfamiliar and sometimes scary. The man must use crude drawings he makes to communicate his needs for shelter or food.

We follow this man around as he tries to make sense of his new home. The reader will have many questions. For instance, why are there dragon scales following the man as he leaves his home? Why does he see the creature that follows him around as an alien baby? Is this because to immigrants, dogs and cats would not be common pets? What are the spaceships flying around supposed to represent? Buses? Planes?

I suppose that Tan could be going for a non-literal translation. In other words, maybe every item viewed on the pages isn't supposed to represent a counterpart that would be identifiable in America. Maybe the spaceships just represent transportation, and the alien creature just represents another life form, rather than a literal dog or cat.

The drawings are certainly beautiful, and readers will enjoy following the man's story. This is recommended for all ages.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
meghna pradhan
Recently, Patrick Rothfuss wrote something very positive on his blog about this graphic novel, so I thought I'd check it out and am glad I did. Shaun Tan perfectly evokes what it must have been like to be an immigrant in a city like New York in the early 20th century, by showing the journey and early experiences of a man arriving in a huge city, fleeing a nameless danger and trying to start a new life for his family. The immigrant experience is alienating, confusing, at times dehumanizing, but there's also friendship with other newcomers and a sense of excitement and exploration. The story, told entirely without words, is at times very touching, at others very funny. The artwork is simply stunning. Shaun Tan somehow manages to make the book's environments at once exotic and recognizable. This is a book you can "read" for the first time in under an hour, but will go back to countless times. The Arrival is one of the most beautiful and memorable graphic novels I've ever read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
debbie williams
This is my husband's favorite graphic novel ever. After reading it for the first time last night, I can see why. The book itself is a marvel--detailed, "aged" and high quality. I related to the story personally because it is my dad's story of when he left my mother and I in China to go to the U.S. to pursue a Master's degree. My mother and I moved the second year and all the strange and unfamiliar things the character encounters really struck a chord. With no words, Tan successfully lays out a perfectly-told, beautiful tale with illustrated panels.

This work is a wonder.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
When I read Shaun Tan's 'The Arrival' I felt as though I had been transported into a different world. All the sounds around I dimmed to a muted silence as I was immersed in the quiet reality of the book. Using solely pictures to tell the tale of one man's journey from his oppressed country into the free world, Tan forces the reader to look beyond the drawn image and hear the sounds, feel the emotions, touch the pavement, and share in the confusion and discovery.

As the daughter of immigrant parents, I was truly able to appreciate Tan's attention to the simple details of the immigrant experience. Inventing a new language based on symbols beautifully portrayed the feeling of confusion my parents described to me when they first arrived in the United States. It was all there in this story: the medical exams, the labeling, the misunderstanding, the moments of distraught fear, the unexpected helping hand, the exchange of stories, the slow adaptation to new life, the reunion, and finally, the complete sense of belonging - it was both foreign and familiar.

Tan also masterfully makes this book a universal experience; his characters can be from any ethnic background and their oppressive countries could be anywhere in the world. This universality also extends to the 'land of freedom' where the bizarre foods, transportation, monuments, animals, and language make even the reader feel like they are on a distant planet. Moreover, his stunning drawings perfectly illustrate the main characters emotions; transporting the reader into this silent journey and making them part of the story - at times as a silent witness, others as another character.

Although 'The Arrival' is a beautiful and detailed picture book, I would not read it to children under 11 years of age. It has a very mature content which palpably evokes emotions of fear, confusion, and distress that might be shocking for a young audience. Shaun Tan has written a memoir in silence, but the silence should not be considered a lack of communication, only a different medium.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amber ruvalcaba
You always hear tales from your family about the isolation of being an immigrant. How it feels to enter a new country where you don't know what is written on the signs around you, what is considered food, how to greet a stranger. "Arrival" places the immigrant's experience into something tangible for both children and adults. You will understand, or at least have an idea, of what it feels like to flee a home that is full of danger and take a chance on a new world - building a life for the family you miss and eventually bring over. And there are no undertones about what country this one represents - it is not the U.S. or England, but a developed and intellectual country that, for whatever reason, has opened its doors to anyone who seeks freedom. It is a parable for our times, one that can change our minds about what it means to take a chance on strangers, and find kindness and hope in return.

Simply wonderful. Thank you, Mr. Tan.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tina shull
I've never read a graphic novel, and I'm thrilled to have read this one first.

Shaun Tan's 'The Arrival' is completely graphic, wordless. It is the story of a young father whom leaves his wife and daughter to take a long journey to a wholly different country so that he can support them. The imagery is rich and tender, truly amazing. To emphasize the entirely confusing world that immigrants enter, the graphics are completely foreign, unintelligible, overwhelming. It is easy to identify with the immigrant's predicament, and to root for him to find a place, friends, a home.

I cannot recommend this work of art highly enough.

I would especially hope that those who reduce immigration politics to simplistic chatter, would read this novel and put themselves into the main character's hat and shoes, and think carefully about what they might do if faced with a similar choice.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joe miguez
I didn't think I'd like this book. The pictures look almost like photographs. There are no words, no real jacket copy. I didn't know what to expect, so I put it down and left it until my roommate picked it up and read it in a single sitting. Her love of the book inspired me to read it.

I'm so glad I did.

This book reimagines immigrants, painting pictures of imaginary cities that you'll have to look at twice to fully understand: why are there tendrils emerging from over that horizon? Why are these immigrants leaving? What do these surreal landscapes mean?

The story follows one man leaving his family for a foreign land. As he arrives on strange soil, he is followed by a strange pale creature, depicted on the cover. Everyone here has one of these strange creatures. All of the creatures here, in fact, are different from the ones back home. Signs are written in foreign symbols, and the city is too large to fully understand. As he explores the city, readers follow the immigrant and watch his world unfold around them.

By not using words, The Arrival deposits readers in an imaginative realm as strange to us as it is to the main character. Give it a read. You'll want to reread it, too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
How similar this book is to my family's own immigrant experience. But I also saw parallels to what I've always said must be the experience of people with learning disabilities who must navigate a world of symbols they don't understand & communicate with language that is difficult for them to speak. A picture is worth a thousand words. I thank Shaun Tan for giving me dozens of pictures with which to advocate on behalf of my own child who learns differently and the many other children I work with who struggle with dyslexia, apraxia and other developmental disabilities. Thank you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anna simonak
A man leaves his wife and child behind to prepare a life for them in a new land. He faces strange customs and a strange language in a strange world. Gradually, he is able to find work and make friends among other newcomers, who have their own stories to tell of why they had to leave their home countries.

How do you depict the strangeness and wonder of a new place without words? Shaun Tan's "The Arrival" is an astonishing and surreal depiction of the immigrant experience, of what it is like to experience the wonder and fear and danger of a new place. The incredibly detailed illustrations, that suggest early twentieth century photos, are evocative and powerful, full of fantasy but at the same time vividly suggestive of real experience. A very exciting graphic novel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ashley powell
This book has
- no words
- amazing pictures
- emotional depth
- magical settings
- terrible monsters

This is a book everyone can relate to - we've all felt like outsiders at some point in our lives. At 128 pages, it takes only 30 minutes to 'read' before you'll want to go over it again more slowly in detail.

It is the tale of a man leaving his family for a distant foreign land and facing all the strange things there, unable to speak the language, understand the food, the animals, the people, the rules.

Every time I've shown this book to friends, I've eventually had to prize it out of their hands as they pour over the detailed drawings, tears welling up at the beautiful story.

You'll never get tired of it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Surrealist, original and simply gorgeous. This visual interpretation of a family immigrating to another country, in search of a better life, is told entirely in exquisitely hand drawn pictures. There are no words here, and none are needed. You feel the determination and anxiety of the father as he becomes a stranger in a strange land. You also experience his joyful moments too, discovering the human connections along the way. Anyone who's traveled to a land foreign from their own will appreciate the visuals. The striking newness of an unknown place leaves an imprint that's hard to put into words. Of course, these drawings do a better job than most explanations.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
After randomly picking this up from a friend's coffee table I was instantly intrigued by the gorgeous artwork. Soon enough I found myself reading the entire thing and being surprised by how both funny and moving it was.

I've read several graphic novels before (Maus, Persepolis, American Born Chinese, etc) so I know such works can be powerful. However, what surprised me the most was how much I liked this work and how much of a story it told, all the while not using a single word.

In turns poignant and humorous, "The Arrival" tells the tale of the immigrant experience in a beautiful way that will appeal to those young and old.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Simply the most brilliant treatment of the dislocation of immigration I've ever come across. Shaun Tan's wordless novel is poignant, unsettling, and gorgeous. Respecting the imaginations of his readers, Tan pours empathy into the immigrant experience.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abdullah farhat
I first read this book about 6 years ago as part of my undergrad course work. At that time I had 5 other people, ranging in age from 4 to 51, interpret 2 pages to establish how they understood it. It was so much fun, and so interesting to see the different stories each took from it. The 4 year old is now 10, and this is STILL her favorite book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lauren harvey
The Arrival is one of the most unique books I've ever read because it has no words, only pictures. Unlike most graphic novels, the illustrations are not cartoon-like; they are vivid and dreamlike. Tan does an excellent job of showing how foreign and strange the new country was for immigrants.

The story tells of an immigrant man who comes to America, and has a hard time acclimating to the new surroundings. He eventually becomes successful enough to bring his family over.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shiva devy
...away from their family, culture, and land will find comfort in this book. It provides with rich metaphors and imagery of departure, culture shock, misunderstandings, confusion, adaptation--you name it!--all of those experiences an immigrant or a long-distance traveler is going through.

...and had difficulty communicating, or had ever occupied oneself with a thought of what it means "to arrive somewhere" and what an experience of arrival to a land of no known customs and language may be like--will also benefit greatly from this presentation.

The book's presentation:
The medium of the story delivery through a series of pictures (wonderful illustrations in their own right!!!) allows for multiple interpretations of the content and is adaptable to any travel/immigration situation. The story itself has depth in its many layers, depending on whose side of it you are following: the Daughter's, the Wife's, or the Man's, or perhaps--some other character in the book :-)). Detailed illustrations make me return to these pages again and again, finding some new twist, or making new interpretations.

Both, children (as young as 4) and adults I have shared this book with, loved at least something about it. Younger children, unless familiar with the experience, will probably not understand all the complexity of it, however, the very idea of presenting these experiences through pictures allows them to stay with the story and enjoy it just the same. As far as adults, I cannot think of anyone whom this book may leave untouched or indifferent.

This is by far one of the most MOVING, THOUGHT PROVOKING, INSPIRING, and beautifully done books! I never stop hunting for good volumes out there, and this one is A TREASURE for book lovers and collectors alike.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
graham lawler
I remember when I first immigrated to the states when I was nine years old. So many things looked foreign to me. I came on the fourth of July; I thought they were celebrating our arrival with the fireworks. Protagonist in Shaun Tan's THE ARRIVAL is fresh off the boat to a land that is strange and bizarre that is so alien even to everyone who picks up the book so we become the immigrant who can't figure out what the sign on the store says or become deaf to the spoken words that it wouldn't make sense to have dialog in the book. It's a well thought out book to give readers the experience of being an immigrant through this beautifully illustration book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
If you want an example of pictures conveying more than words ever could, this book is the perfect example. This is an absolutely beautiful story, told not with words but a series of absolutely breathtaking, life-like black, white, and sepia pencil drawings. The story is about one of the thousands of immigrants coming to America in the early twentieth century, and the book tells his journey of traveling, saying good-bye to his family, getting accommodated in his new world, and learning to connect with people/find a job, etc. without speaking their native language.

When the main character arrives in the new world, everything is drawn in a magical, fantastical, yet almost-realistic-with-only-a-couple-of-variations-from-real-life fashion, and letters are drawn as obscure symbols. It gives you a real taste of what America must have looked like to the immigrants who came here so many years ago. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. The author noted in the back that it took four years to compete this book, and if you want an example of a quiet, simple masterpiece, look no further.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
olha olha
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Once, as a boy, I was exploring the recesses of my grandmother's attic. Lifting the lid of an old trunk I discovered a thick envelope full of yellowed papers. The handwriting was ornate and fading; the language indecipherable - a mystery begging to be solved.

That's how I felt reading Shaun Tan's The Arrival. This engrossing book has the feel of old documents or a family album that has been lost for years. Pick it up and you hold in your hand the account of an immigrant who travels across cultures to a new land and a strange life. Yet this story is its own mystery to be solved because it is told entirely without words!

Pictures on each page reveal new clues to the story. Tan renders his drawings in pencil with a sepia tone and "water stains" that suggest the age and authenticity of a historical document once hidden between the rafters. Seen through the eyes of the protagonist who leaves his homeland, the culture of the new world is familiar and confounding at the same time. Buildings, street vendors, animals, foods, even kitchen utensils are foreign and confusing presenting complicated challenges for the main character. We find ourselves observing, analyzing, and interpreting this strange culture too.

And that's the fun of this book. We also must decipher and ascribe meaning to the images that create this story. Sometimes we even have to decide the order in which to "read" the sequential pictures! Tan's book gives a heart-felt voice to the immigrant experience and opens a window for anyone going abroad or welcoming new comers to their own land.

For more info visit [...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nancy nadolski
I was so intrigued with Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia that I had to get this book. It is different from Suburbia in that no words are used to tell this intriguing and mysterious tale. It is one long story with one image per page to upward of twenty images. Tan artfully uses the graphic novel form to guide the viewer through a monochromatic world that is often surrealistic and absurd, yet never threatening or overbearing.

Suitable for both children and adults, and all will be enthralled with this magnificent story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brandon nelson
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
saad asif
This book is so beautiful and inspiring. My husband bought this for me for Christmas last year and at first, I was like "meh". But then I opened it and I was almost in tears partly because how well my husband knows me and then of the artwork and I love it so much. I had never heard of Shaun Tan and now I'm a huge fan of Mr. Tan. I will be putting another one of Mr. Tan's books on my wish list. I can't wait for the film "The Lost Thing" either!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dawn gelking
A wordless graphic novel, The Arrival is the story of a man who leaves his family to work in the big city of a foreign land. The pictures show a place both familiar and strange, people both familiar and strange, objects both familiar and strange. That combination of familiarity and strangeness created a feeling of fascination in this reader that kept me reading (Reading? Is that the word for figuring out the story from the pictures without text?) to the end. A brilliant book. A must-read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
george aiello
I picked up The Arrival expecting to, at the most, have a look at the first few pages. About half an hour later I was still standing in the exact same spot, staring at the last page and wondering if I had time to start over again.

This is not a comic or a graphic novel. There's no text at all, just pictures, and it's a testament to Shaun Tan's skill that the book still manages to tell an engrossing and deeply affecting story about emmigration, oppression and the difficulties inherent in leaving your family behind for a new life. The nameless protagonist travels from his home country to a fantasy city that resembles a very whimsical interpretation of somewhere like New York. He faces the same problems that any new arrival in a country must contend with, including finding a job and dealing with the unfamiliar local culture. The people he meets are frequently immigrants themselves, and share with him their own stories.

The Arrival works on a number of levels, and fully appreciating it will require some thought on the part of the reader. It's more than worth the effort, however, particularly when a seemingly bizarre image abruptly comes together and makes sense. (My favourite was probably the giant cyclopean men with the furnaces on their backs, and I'm still mulling over the exact meaning of the dragons in the main character's homeland.)

I highly recommend this to anyone who likes great artwork and a great and deeply moving story. Go in with an open mind and you definitely won't be disappointed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A beautiful, wordless graphic novel about a man making his perilous way to find a better future for his family. The art is amazing and looks like old photographs and the story is compelling, enchanting, and utterly human amidst many fantastical elements.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Shaun Tan wordlessly writes about the immigrant experience in this sepia-toned graphic novel. In large two-page cityscapes and smaller one page, half page, quarter page, and 1/12th page drawings he unfolds the tale of a man who leaves his wife and child to seek employment in a foreign land. Using fantastic creatures, architecture, alphabets & objects to portray the strangeness of a new world, Tan creates the disorientation of the immigrant in a way any reader can understand.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tracy albers
This book reminds me of The Middle Passage by Tom Feelings, another wordless picture book. The emotions that pictures can elicit as opposed to words still astounds me to no end. Shaun Tan did an amazing job of telling this story with pictures alone. I got my copy from the local library but will be ordering my own copy for my personal library once I finish writing this review. To say I loved it is an understatement, I was blown away and enchanted by this wonderful book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Shaun Tan's "The Arrival" is a story told without any conventional text. The beautifully drawn and detailed sepia pictures move from the grand scale of strangely geometrical cityscapes to the intimacy of a close-up in a single frame. The story is that of a man with a family who leaves them to look for work in a new country and his experiences there. Whether or not the author's "argument" is literally true (is it, for example, a romanticised interpretation of immigration?) the encounters and incidents that the man meets with are convincing because they represent certain common experiences that anybody who has ever travelled to a strange land will understand instantly. In that sense it has tremendous power to appeal to a broad range of readers. Moreover, it is at heart a deeply optimistic book. Readers of different ages will extract different things from this gentle book but it is suitable for readers of all levels and cultures.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kenyon vrooman
How to tell a story with no words. That makes it a universal story and a work of genius. Shaun Tan has created a lot of beautiful picture books (notably, The Red Tree) but this one takes the cake. You can read it to anyone of any age, creating your own story to fit the images. Totally awesome.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rosemary macmaster
Shaun Tan's The Arrival is beautiful. There are no words in this story, instead it is told in a series of intricate, unbelievably lovely pictures. It is the story of immigration, of entering a foreign world and trying to fit in there, told through a fantastic conceit. Go get this one, you won't regret it. Savor it slowly and really appreciate its beauty.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david allen
I found out about this marvelous book through Neil Gaiman's Journal. The Arrival was my first graphic novel and I was awed by the intensity and yet nuanced storytelling accomplished with absolutely no text!
Even though the country the immigrant comes to is very foreign in some major ways and the feeling of dislocation and fear are strong for the man who is the main character, still there are little touches of familiarity in this strange place, and the people open up to him.
The drawing is quietly compeling, and I found myself pouring over the pages, finding new delights on every street corner and windowsill.
I would recommend this book to all ages; after I read it, I shared it with my granddaughters, and they loved it, too!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book is just breathlessly beautiful.

I first became familiar with Shaun Tan's artwork from a short animated film he did. This book is in the same beautiful, whimsical style. But it is not just a book of his beautiful drawings; it is the tale of an immigrant in a new and strange land, told completely without words. It is a tale of fear and wonder and courage and the human spirit. It had me in tears by the end.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eric schmidt
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The Arrival by Shaun Tan was nothing like I have ever read before. This graphic novel is so powerful, which is interesting because there are no words. I enjoyed being able to use my own imagination to figure out what exactly is happening. At first I had a hard time figuring it out, but as the story goes on you kind of start to develop the mindset of figuring out what it going on. I really liked how it is relatable to anyone whether you are a foreign immigrant coming into a new country or if you are a student switching high schools, you are going to go through the stage of trying to figure things out and make new friends at the same time. The story overall was a very great read and I strongly recommend it to everyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emily smith
I just finished "reading" this book, and I'm weeping. It's THAT beautiful. I'm a high school reading specialist, and I will be using this in my classes. I'm glad it's my prep period with no students in the class right now, as I'm trying to compose myself.

I can't even express in words how wonderful this book is. I wish I could draw like Tan, then I could, perhaps, come close to expressing what this book can do and has done. Overwhelming.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
suzy q
While it doesn't take long to "read", its artwork is just so captivating. The reason I put read in quotes is that there aren't any words, just pictures. But the artwork that is there, is just outstanding. You could take forever just engrossed in the beautiful artwork that is inside of this book. The story that is told through this artwork is really great. Its basically the story of a man who travels to a new place and is dependent on the kindness of strangers. All in all, a great story that everyone should take a look at.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
charley henley
This book is by far the most unique and brilliant works of art I have encountered, and I went to school for art! "The Arrival" is most definitely not only for children, in fact, I feel it is probably the most appreciated by adults. Every moment in this story is dense with movement, emotion, and most importantly completely understandable by all languages. It is a book that ties all of the people of the world together. Without using words, it still contains plot, dialogue and metaphor. I cannot praise Shaun Tan enough for creating something so meticulous and poignant.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I am an international student. I have never read a graphic novel before. When I read The Arrival, I was totally dragged into the story. This book was assigned by my writing teacher. After we finished the book, she asked the students a few questions about the meaning of pictures. Student tossed different kinds of ideas back and forth and it was interesting to hear from different perspectives about the book. This wordless graphic novel gave me a broad space to broaden my imagination. Those interesting drawings made me think about the idea that the author was trying to convey. I was motivated to write a story about this book. I was glad that my teacher chose this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This graphic novel was a very interesting read. I took interest in the metaphors that the author used to illuminate the character's story. It also serves in telling a story and adventure for the younger readers. The novel also portrays the different cultures and how people interact with one another, even though they speak different languages. I also took interest in how the author uses weird animals to help explain the story. I felt that this was also an element that served to appeal to younger readers. This is definitely a novel that I would recommend to any reader who is interested in a mixture of fantasy and a story that is based on true events.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
How does one best capture the experience of stepping into a new land? Of leaving everything behind? Of stepping into a new life? Of hopes? Fears? Dreams? Encounters? Especially when one has had to leave their family behind? The Arrival does just that. This is brilliantly crafted to tell a story which works on many levels (my children enjoyed this as much as I did - though we took very different things from the novel).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The book is beautiful and wonderful for all audiences. ESL teachers can use this book as a basis for conversation practice, with questions such as "Does this picture make you think of something that happened to you or your family?" "How do you think he feels?" "What does he see?" "Where is he?" Students at many different proficiency levels can be asked to "tell" a story that goes with the pictures -- as small group work, individual work, orally and in writing. Because of the rich details and universal themes, this book can be an invaluable tool in an ESL classroom.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is NOT a little kid picture book as subject matter and the pictures won't make sense to you unless you're a bit worldly and know something about the HOT topic of immigration and immigrants. I would say, at least, a teenager or older. As you move through the pages, you become the immigrant trying to decipher the world of the exotic -- nothing looks like or sounds like or behaves like the familiar back home. How do you navigate this world when navigation is a MUST as conditions back home are unliveable and others are depending on you. Try it; you'll gain a new respect for what the newcomer is up against. Try it with your children or grandchildren. It was certainly a lesson in empathy for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kara harris
This book is amazing! It pulled at emotions from younger immigrant children, as well as mixed adolescents, teens, and adults we shared the book with. Though it is untraditional and doesn't use written language, the pictures tell the story better than words ever could!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer kelley
I was required to read this beautiful graphic novel for my Writing class as a freshman in college. It was very fun to read as it wasn't reading at all! It was all pictures! The pictures are very clear and easy to understand and the illustrations are very unique. It was also a very nice story. After reading it one time through, I was still a bit confused about what the story was all about, but if you read it through once more, you will be able to understand it and comprehend the adventure that the main character has. Great Book! Recommended to all levels of readers! Appropriate for all ages.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marcus howell
This picture book that you would find in the childrens section of the bookstore is amazing, to be honest the narrative (which is old via knock-me-over illustrations) has a lot more to say than a few recent adult books I've read..

This is one of those special present books. It's beautiful.

If you are one of those adults who enjoy collecting childrens books, you'll love this. Promise.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chaprie robinson
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!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jonathan obryant
I have never been into image books, but when I found this one on our local bookstore, I just HAD to buy it. The artwork is stupendous and the whole book is perfect to be used as a reference book. Not only that, I never cease to be amazed at books that manage to tell a touching story without the use of a single word.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amy lin
No words written on it but the scenes say it all. Beautifully drawn, so much expression and so much that is said with just colors and lines. A masterpiece. The story is a common place but the way it is told is just poetic. Recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary jo frohne
A beautiful story, and a unique experience as it truly makes you feel as confused and alienated as the man must have felt arriving, and trying to get by, in this strange new land. The character's reactions and experiences seem so realistic given the stark contrast of odd creatures and landscapes. I would recommend this to anyone, immigrant or not.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kurt marsh
I first found this book in a comic/anime/video game art gallery. It was so amazing that I had to buy it. I don't regret it at all. The story is so powerful, and the style in which it is told is so innovative!!! What's so cool is that anyone of any language can get through the entire book and understand it just as much as the last person. And just as the book itself says, it can be a more mature book for younger people, or it can be a more imaginative book for older ones; either way, it fits all ages.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The Arrival inspired a deep empathic link to the main (nameless) character, simply by the process of sharing the alienation and communication difficulties through placing the reader firmly in his shoes. This is a long, slow story however, and requires commitment to remain engaged - but it is highly rewarding for those who stay with it. I can see why it received so many awards worldwide!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ruth evelyn
This is a wonderful book to share with your children and to help them understand what it is like to go to a place that is very different than what they are used to. So beautifully done. If a picture is worth a thousand words this book would fill a library had it been told in words rather than pictures.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
One of the most beautiful books you will ever read, both in the quality of the artwork as well as the sentimental story which hits home in the hearts of everyone. I would recommend this to anyone even remotely thinking about buying it, just go for it, you'll treasure this book until the end of time. Shaun Tan is an artistic genius & a brilliant story-teller.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Absolutely breathtaking in its beauty and originality. Obviously the work of a true genius. I can't imagine what Shaun Tan could produce that would top this...although I imagine he DOES! I eagerly await your next work. And thanks for sharing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sellia kharisma
If you've ever had reservations about buying a "comic book/graphic novel," throw them away this instant! This is a must treasure book. The art is not only gorgeous but evokes emotions to the highest degree. You'll see fantastical lands, strange creatures, and everyday life jump out to capture your mind. Don't miss out on this story!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
shel sammut
Received as a gift. I put it on my the store wishlist because I thought it was a graphic novel, not a picture book with no words which you have to really stretch to make it a story with an actual stream of plot. This ended up on my coffee table, then under it and is still there.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nancy dunn
An amazing work of tireless illustration coiled around an eerily ethereal story of oppression, immigration, and hope. At once familiar and fantastical, as if it is set in a parallel universe where Ellis Island is more like Ellis Planet. This is a brilliant, wordless YA graphic novel which at times has the feel and pacing (like segments of The Invention of Hugo Cabret) of a silent film. Sublime genius!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dave dahl
This is one of the most beautifully illustrated, imaginatively magical books in my vast collection. It tells a tale of immigration to a new, unfamiliar land full of mystery, hope and strange industrialization. Highly recommended!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sarah kathleen
I'm an 8th grade history teacher and I look forward to using the beautiful imagery of this book in my lessons on immigration in early America. This book was recommended by my professor and she was spot on.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A book without words? Yes. "Arrival" communicates in a universal language that reveals itself more fully with each reading. If you've ever for a moment felt like a stranger in a foreign land, you'll emotionally connect with this story.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
anne boyack
This is a very interesting novel, to say the least. It is wordless. The only "words" throughout the book are some kind of illegible language. I believe the authors purpose in putting these strange writings in the novel is to allow the reader to experience what it must feel like for immigrants who do not know the native language of the country they have ventured to.
"The Arrival" by Shaun Tan is obviously a very quick read. While some pages seem to be just pictures, others take a little bit more time to decipher. Not only does Shaun Tan take the reader to strange new worlds with odd creatures, he also places shadows and strange figures in very meaningful positions. This book posesses a lot of meaning, just not depicted in the most conventional way of most novels.
I think for younger children or even young adults, this book might be a little bit too deep. I'd say it would be a lot more worthwhile for older middle school, younger high school aged children. Any age below that I don't feel would appreciate the depth.
Overall I'd say it's a concept that takes some getting used to, but once you start to see the meaning of the pictures and begin to analyze each detail, the words of the novel can actually be written in your head, which is great for the imagination.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
beth hampshire
I bought this book for my fairly brainy teenage nephew's birthday, who has loved other graphic novels. I bought it because of the great reviews but am not quite sure what to make of it. It's about immigrants but there are also some puzzling rat-like pets and while the book is without words, there are puzzling scripts in some of the frames, clearly an invented language. I hope he enjoys it more than I did. It seemed more obtuse than necessary.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
bassem el shamy
I'm as artsy as the next person, but I was led to believe that this book was about immigration and bought it to add to my classroom library. Unfortunately, it wasn't about immigration to America. The drawings are beautiful, I will give the artist that. They are beautifully rendered; but so weird and 'out there' that I wouldn't recommend wasting your money. The odd places and animals are really nothing like what real immigrants faced when coming to America. My ancestors were immigrants so I had high hopes that this would be a book that would add depth of understanding of just how hard it was to leave all you know to go to a strange place. Instead, it's just too odd. I will be returning it.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
This is a picture book with not a single word. So, to me it is not even a book but art album. If there is a story, it is rather difficult to understand and boring. I am extremely disappointed, as I planned to give this book as gift. Would not recommend this book. As for the quality of art, I cannot judge.
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