Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Arrival

The Arrival

Fall 2007 Fiction
Ages: 10 & Up
Author: Arthur Levine
Author: Shaun Tan
Illustrator: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 0439895294
Hardcover Price: $19.99

Rarely has the immigrant experience been portrayed in such a visceral way: frightening, somber, thrilling, wondrous, dangerous and terribly, terribly lonely. In a wordless narrative, revealed through a magnificent sequence of surreal images in which even the slightest variation in tonality - from graphite grey to sepia - is fraught with meaning, readers follow the journey of an unnamed everyman as he packs his suitcase, walks to the station with wife and daughter (amid shadows of huge spiked tails curling across the walls of the town), and boards a train to who knows where. His arrival in his new home could be, for all intents, stepping ashore on an entirely different planet...albeit one whose underpinnings are just recognizable enough to be wholly unsettling. One single two-image sequence near the outset (there are almost 600 individual pictures in this cinematic 66 page, 6 chapter presentation) of clasped hands slowly drawing apart is enough to rend even the stoniest heart. Hands, in fact, are a central image in this merged landscape where dreams are concrete and reality is a mirage. Ultimately, however, it is the image of a paper bird, fragile as hope, that brings the tale full circle. From faux antique-journal covers to virtually stained, crumpled and foxed pages, this is not a graphic novel, it is a graphic triumph.

Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2007 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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