The Arrival

by Shaun Tan
ISBN: 0439895294

The more Shaun Tan books I read, the harder it gets to write the reviews. I don’t want to repeat myself, but things I’ve said before could apply equally to this book:

  • One of Tan’s gifts is his ability to create an understanding of potentially difficult topics that are generally thought of as adult (depression, hope, alienation) but are, I think, quite appropriate for children.
    (The Lost Thing)
  • His pictures provide the first-gasp oh experience as well as delights that come with careful discovery.
    (The Rabbits)
  • [Children] need to know, to be reminded in stories the way adults do, that you can recognize fear and unhappiness and that those conditions don’t need to last forever, even though it feels that way sometimes.
    (The Red Tree)

See, Shaun Tan really is that good.

His books are visual and emotional wonders, and The Arrival is no exception. It is wordless, but nothing of the story is lost in the translation to pictures. In fact it makes the plight of the characters more acute, as they are immigrants struggling to communicate, to fit in, to share their stories. To describe the imagery (sepia tones, sketched, magical and ominous landscapes) doesn’t feel like doing it justice.

If you haven’t seen Shaun Tan‘s work, you have a world to explore, one that will be worth every minute you invest in it. Tan creates strange cities, marvelous creatures, and intricate and beautiful images to tell important stories. Highly recommended.

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