"A shockingly imaginative graphic novel that captures the sense of adventure and wonder that surrounds a new arrival on the shores of a shining new city. Wordless, but with perfect narrative flow, Tan gives us a story filled with cityscapes worthy of Winsor McCay." -- Jeff Smith, author of Bone
"A magical river of strangers and their stories!" -- Craig Thompson, author of Blankets
"Magnificent." -- David Small, Caldecott Medalist
In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He's embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life - he's leaving home to build a better future for his family. Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant's experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can't communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character's isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy.
Philip Pullman has said, "Stories can be presented in the form of words, but they can also be presented in the form of pictures.... Whatever stories are made of, words aren't fundamental to it. Something else is. And what I think is fundamental to the narrative process is events -- stories are made of events." As if to illustrate this point, Shaun Tan's stunning The Arrival chronicles -- in a wordless, wondrous pictorial narrative -- an immigrant's parting from his family and journey toward the future in a new land that is simultaneously ominous and hopeful. Told in drawings of varying sizes -- sometimes there are 12 panels to a page, sometimes 4; there are many full-page images -- Tan's tale juxtaposes the realistic with the phantasmagoric, giving shape to both the mundane material needs and the psychologically charged emotions of immigrant experience. Isolation, fear, want, sympathy, amity, joy: all are rendered palpable by the author's fecund visual invention. He has composed an imaginative landscape in which the uncertain bravery of an immigrant's journey is seen in its true grandeur; best of all, Tan has created a mesmerizing and mysterious "bookscape" in which readers young and old can wander again and again, poring over details, elaborating events, fashioning narrative destinies, discovering new worlds. Ages 12 and up. --James Mustich