The Arrival

Title: The Arrival
Author: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
ISBN: 978-0439895293
Rating: 3/5 Stars


New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award
2006 Cybils Award
Bologna Ragazzi Award, Special Mention
Spectrum Award
Junior Library Guild Selection
World Fantasy Artist of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2007
A New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2007’s Best Teen Book of 2007
2007 Parents’ Choice Gold Award
A Book Sense Winter 2007-2008 Top Ten Children’s Pick
A New York Public Library Best Book for Reading and Sharing
A New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2007
Rocky Mountain News, A Top Ten Book of the Year
The Columbus Dispatch, A Best Book of 2007
Booklist Editors’ Choice 2007
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2007
A Washington Post Best Book for Young People for 2007
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon for Fiction
ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2008
ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, 2008
ALA Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2008
Horn Book Fanfare Book 2007
Metropolitan Home Magazine’s Design 100, 2008
An IRA Notable Book for a Global Society, 2008
2008 Locus Award, Best Art Book
2008 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, special citation for excellence in graphic storytelling
CCBC Choices 2008
Nominated for an International Horror Guild Award, Illustrated Narrative
New York Public Library’s 100 Best Children’s Books from the Last 100 Years


Using only pictures, Shaun Tan has written a beautiful book that illustrates the emotional journey of an immigrant from the comfort of home to a new and scary land.  Following the main character as he leaves behind his family for a new land, Tan lets the reader experience a life lived in an unknown world.  With demons and dragons lurking in the shadows, the main character searches for work and attempts to navigate the new land, at the same time as he strives to make money and bring his family to this new place.  Although the pictures lack color, the emotions are strong with the turn of each page.  An older reader will not be disappointed simply because this book has no words.  In fact, the lack of words create the perfect sense of lonliness.  A novel for middle grade students, this work will serve as a wonderful resource for schools in multiple subject areas.

Review Excerpt:

“Shaun Tan not only makes the old immigration story new again, he also ingeniously puts the reader in the immigrant’s position to give the experience an immediacy one would have thought impossible to obtain from a fictional exploration. . . . Tan turns this classic story into an imaginative as well as a visual tour de force by making the elements of the immigrant’s new country as strange, fantastical, and incomprehensible to the reader as to the new arrival. . . . Tan’s fictional newfound land is overwhelmingly glamorous, alien, and plausible, conveying culture shock in a way that straightforward historical chronicles simply can’t manage. This could electrify a curriculum, provoke conversation if shared within a family, or simply bring a reader a startling new way of seeing a familiar story.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review


As students study about Ellis Island, teachers should read this book to their classes.  Assign each student to read this book through the eyes of an immigrant from a different country.  Use the images in this book as symbols of their immigration experience with regard to the country and life they left behind.


Arthur A. Levine Books. 2014. “Arrival, The.”

Tan, Shaun. 2007. The Arrival. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.


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