Cover of this title
The Arrival
Shaun Tan

This graphic novel does not need a single written word to tell its story about migrating from one country to another. Using the outside form of an old picture book, it depicts the story of a man journeying to a strange country to find a new home for his family. On the way, he encounters loneliness, strange food, frightening creatures, and people who are different from him – yet many of them share his desire to find a safe and welcoming place to live. The novel actually contains several stories of people fleeing from war, authoritarian regimes, and other fear-inducing circumstances, which are often conveyed in an abstract form such as monstrous and thorny tails seizing a city. Using different shades of sepia-coloured drawings for these stories-within-a-story, this book is a multifaceted story about migration, multicultural societies, and hope.

This graphic novel is suitable for various ages as it communicates both through individual images and more complex sequential art. A few darker images – albeit abstract – may make this a little frightening for younger readers, though. As the story narrates without using any words it is suitable for any language subject, Ethics, History and Social Science. Its sepia-coloured pictures almost look like a storyboard for a movie and might be suitable for an interdisciplinary teaching project with Arts.

· · 2006

Critical edition

Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Hodder Children's Books, 2007. 128 pp., ISBN 9780340969939

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In favour of this entry

  • Award-winning
  • Beyond the US and the UK
  • Explores historical contexts
  • Intercultural perspectives
  • Interdisciplinary or cross-curricular teaching