Tag Archives: The Arrival

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

11th October 2011

You have to page through this book to appreciate its breathtaking beauty. Crafted like an old family scrapbook, The Arrival by Shaun Tan is one of the most beautiful stories told: the immigrant’s story. It’s been told by so many people in so many different ways, but this wordless graphic novel illustrates the story in a very vivid way.

A young father leaves his family to move to a new land to find work. The animals, the people, the buildings – all are new and foreign to him, and Tan emphasizes this by creating buildings and machines and animals wholly unlike any you’ve seen before. The man is lonely but goal oriented, and he communicates with drawings and hand gestures. He comes home in the evenings to a picture of his family, waiting for the day he will be reunited with them.

Tan uses both panels and full pages of illustrations, and the endsheets are an amalgamation of faces – European, Asian, Middle Eastern. Many of the illustrations almost appear to stand out from the page, pasted in with care by a loving family member. Thumbing the pages in quiet, looking and appreciating the bravery and ambition it takes to pack up, leaving family and friends and culture behind, only to arrive somewhere so different, so unfamiliar, and often, so unfriendly, was a singular experience and one I’ll not forget soon.

The imagination and creativity in the drawings is key in depicting just how different the immigrant views the new country, but the genius (in my opinion) in this book is the choice not to use words. By removing any words, Tan reinforces the silence of the immigrant’s experience. As a new ESL teacher, this honestly stopped me in my tracks. Often, my beginners have no idea what I’m saying, and I have to strive, through word choice, gestures, and sometimes, badly-drawn pictures, to get my meaning across. Though it is certainly not easy for me, I know it is much more difficult for them, and I admire their determination to learn a new language. It can’t be easy.

For a small experience of The Arrival, scroll down:

Winners of BBAW Giveaway

22nd September 2011

Using random.org, which uses ugly-sounding words like “algorithms” and “atmospheric noise” to come up with true random winners…I pulled the winners for the BBAW Giveaway are as follows:


Nadia of A Bookish Way of Life won The Arrival.

Kate of Nose in a Book won City of Glass.

Thank you all so much for entering!

BBAW Day Four and Giveaway

15th September 2011

So, today’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week topic is:

Book bloggers blog because we love reading. Has book blogging changed the way you read? Have you discovered books you never would have apart from book blogging? How has book blogging affected your book acquisition habits? Have you made new connections with other readers because of book blogging? Choose any one of these topics and share your thoughts today!

And while this is a great topic, I want to put this into action by sharing books you may not pick up on your own. Last year, I had such a great time reading, reviewing, and discussing Madame Bovary with Frances of Nonsuch Book. I don’t know if I would ever have picked up that particular book otherwise. If you’ve been around here a bit, you know I love graphic novels, though I don’t read too many of them. So today, in the true spirit of the thing, I have two books up for grabs. Two for two of you, two for me (so not solely altruistic). Two graphic novels – neither of which I have read, both which look intriguing:

My only experience with Paul Auster was a bad one and, unfortunately, highly stereotypical, as in “I wanted to throw the book at the wall” sort. I know. I’m ashamed. I promised I’d never use that phrase here. Alas.

City of Glass is the story of a detective on a meaningless case, who questions who he is, what he is, and how he got here. For some reason, I can see this translating really well into a GN. Plus, I’ve heard others rave about Auster, and this graphic novel with an intro by Art Spiegelman has me pretty pumped.

This is one of those books I’m not sure why I haven’t bought before now. I have heard amazing things about this wordless book. So know up front: no words. Is it still a book? Of course it is. Just a different kind. It’s about an immigrant’s isolating experience in a new place, and I think, as a new ESL teacher, the timing is perfect.


So…who’s in? All you have to do is leave a comment (with email address) telling me a little bit about your experience with comic books or graphic novels. Then, on Sunday, I’ll draw a winner for each book. Plus, if you enjoy the book, I’d love to do companion posts – hey, it’s all about book blogger community. And I’d love the chance to review a graphic novel with someone else.

Please note: Since it is, in fact, Book Blogger Appreciation Week, this giveaway is open only to bloggers. It is, however, open internationally. 🙂


Open Internationally

Open only to book bloggers

Open until Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 8 p.m.

Emails will be sent to winners. Winner must respond within 48 hours.