Graphic Novel Review 126/365: The Arrival

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days!  Or hit up #GN365 on Twitter.

This week I will feature a great variety of graphic novels that contain little to no words.

Title: The Arrival 

Author(s): Shaun Tan

Publisher:  Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books (2006)

Age Rating: 10+

I read The Arrival a coupe of years ago amid some buzz from my friends.  Today, The Arrival has quietly and quickly become a title that is taught in schools across the nation and has made numerous top ten graphic novel lists.

At its base, this book is about a man that sets out in a strange world to find a new life for his family.  But the way the story is told, is unlike any immigrant experience that I’ve ever read.  Large, sepia-toned, pencil/charcoal-like drawings fill the pages of the over-sized book, delivering landscapes, objects, and local critters that are right out of an MC Escher drawing.

But Shuan Tan still finds the humanity in the portrayal of people, and that’s one of the things that I find most interesting about this book: in the midst of strange world landscapes, the people are very human with hyper-realistic facial features and emotion.

One of the most interesting things about this book is its global appeal.  As I carried the book around school today, I had a foreign language teacher and a social studies teacher ask me about it, then expressing excitement about what they might be able to do with the concept.  Our school owns a class set of the book, so I will for sure attempt to push it into other disciplines.  Pictures and images are universal.  There is no reason we can’t bridge some discipline gaps with this title.  There might even be some math discussion when analyzing the buildings and architecture.

There is no mistaking the oddity of this beautiful tale.  It is the oddity of the book, and the concept that the unfamiliar is alien to us, that makes this book both frightening and relatable.  Check this one out.

Happy reading!


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