Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: The Arrival

The ArrivalThe Arrival by Shaun Tan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A contemplative, atmospheric juvenile graphic novel in the spirit of Peter Spier’s Rain or The Mysteries of Harris Burdick about the experience of leaving one’s country to find refuge in another. Tan’s book follows an unnamed father as he leaves his family behind in their native country in order to find work & a new place to live in another, more peaceful land. Equal parts realistic & fantastical, the art takes inspiration from Ellis Island documents, Ashcan School art, Surrealism & silent films to illustrate the past & present hardships of the immigrant characters, but ultimately delivers a quietly hopeful message about hope & the ties of community.

Recommended to me by a friend, I had no idea what to expect when I picked it up. But each page is an invitation to really focus on the detailed pictures & allow yourself to be absorbed in each character’s story. Tan’s art darts between being photorealistic when rendering people’s faces or hands & being intricately whimsical when depicting the odd creatures that become familiars to the newcomers or the alien languages or geometries that make up the city. Beautiful, expressive & ultimately kind, Arrival is a wonderful book to share with children curious about history & an indulgence for adults who enjoy lingering over the art in graphic novels.

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