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image of person or book cover 3608671497538375908.jpg
Image courtesy of publisher's website.
y separately published work icon The Arrival single work   graphic novel   children's  
Issue Details: First known date: 2006... 2006 The Arrival
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

"The Arrival is a migrant story told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time. A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. He eventually finds himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs, peculiar animals, curious floating objects and indecipherable languages. With nothing more than a suitcase and a handful of currency, the immigrant must find a place to live, food to eat and some kind of gainful employment. He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and hope." (Source: Shaun Tan website)



The Red Tree Shaun Tan , Michael Yezerski (composer), 2008 single work musical theatre 'Music and imagery tell the thought-provoking tale of The Red Tree, inspired by the popular book of award-winning Australian author and artist Shaun Tan. In an extraordinary collaboration, this new work will be created by rising star composer Michael Yezerski with Richard Tognetti and the remarkable young singers of Gondwana Voices. Two deeply moving works of art combine in one incredible experience when Shostakovich's final string quartet accompanies illustrations from Shaun Tan's The Arrival, the story of a displaced person's journey to a new life told entirely through illustration.' Source: (Sighted 28/07/2008).

Reading Australia

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For

AC: Year 10 (NSW Stage 5).


Australia, Australian Bush, Australian landscape, colonisation, connection to place, fear, gender, identity, isolation, marginalisation, migrant experience

General Capabilities

Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Numeracy, Personal and social

Teaching Resources

Teaching Resources

This work has teaching resources.

Teacher's notes from publisher's website.


  • The Arrival is a 128 page book of illustrations without words, a silent graphic novel. Through a series of connecting images, it tells the story of an anonymous migrant leaving some unfortunate circumstances in his home country, crossing an ocean to a strange new city, and learning how to live there. It is the story of every migrant, every refugee, every displaced person and a tribute to all those who have made the journey. It is a story without words but it tells a thousand tales. (Avid Reader Media Release 25/9/06)
  • The Arrival won the 2007 Australian Publishers' Association award for best-designed children's illustrated book.
  • Included in the New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books List for 2007.
  • Images from The Arrival were used in 2008 by the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) in their performance 'The Arrival'. The ACO's performance combined Shostakovich's final string quartet with projected images from Tan's picture book.

  • Included in the 2007 White Ravens Catalogue compiled by the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany. Special mention; international understanding; easily understandable.
  • A musical score by Ben Walsh, inspired by The Arrival, first performed by Orkestra of The Underground to projected images from the book at the Sydney Opera House, Sydney, New South Wales, October 2010.

Affiliation Notes

  • This work is affiliated with the AustLit subset Asian-Australian Children's Literature and Publishing because a Japanese version has been published.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • South Melbourne, South Melbourne - Port Melbourne area, Melbourne - Inner South, Melbourne, Victoria,: Lothian , 2006 .
      Extent: 128p.p.
      Description: illus.
      ISBN: 0734406940
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      United States of America (USA),
      Arthur A. Levine Books ,
      2007 .
      image of person or book cover 3608671497538375908.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 128p.p.
      • Published autumn 2007.

      ISBN: 0439895294
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Arrival and Sketches from a Nameless Land Shaun Tan , Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2010 Z1727145 2010 selected work picture book criticism Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2010
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Hachette Australia , 2014 .
      image of person or book cover 5534213413163767396.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online
      Extent: 128p.
      Description: illus.
      • Published 14 October 2014
      ISBN: 9780734415868
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Hachette Australia , 2015 .
      image of person or book cover 8480739992620230614.jpg
      This image has been sourced from Booktopia
      Extent: 1vp.
      • Published: 1st September 2015
      ISBN: 9789045118390
Alternative title: La ou vont nos peres
Language: French
    • Paris,
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Dargaud ,
      2007 .
      image of person or book cover 5954227258245511799.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 1v.p.
      Description: col. illus.
      ISBN: 9782205059700

Works about this Work

Graphic Experiences of Immigration, Migration, and Diaspora: Shaun Tan's The Arrival and Matt Huynh's Interactive Graphic Adaptation of Nam Le's "The Boat" Alison Halsall , 2021 single work criticism
— Appears in: Graphic Embodiments : Perspectives on Health and Embodiment in Graphic Narratives 2021; (p. 61-74)
International and Local Relief Organizations and the Promotion of Children’s and Young Adult Refugee Narratives Vassiliki Vassiloudi , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: Bookbird , vol. 57 no. 2 2019; (p. 35-49)

'This article looks into refugee narratives produced or endorsed and promoted as children’s reading matter by international refugee relief organizations. The analysis accounts for their emergence as a separate genre with recurrent features, while questioning the assumptions that underlie their production and the aims they serve.' (Publication abstract)

Looking beyond the Scenes : Spatial Storytelling and Masking in Shaun Tan's The Arrival Christiane Buuck , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Graphic Novels for Children and Young Adults : A Collection of Critical Essays, 2017; (p. 154-170)

In this essay Christiane Buuck and Cathy Ryan 'discuss how introducing comics theorist Thierry Groensteen's ideas about visual repetition enriched their university students' ability to interpret the medium. First introduced in his 1999 classic The System of Comics and reinforced in his wiz text Comics and Narration, Groensteen's term "braiding" refers to a repeated element in a comic that draws the reader's attention to a particular idea or theme using images rather than words. The repeated element can be a page layout, the layout of an image in a panel, the repetition of a design, the figural placement of characters or objects on the page, but the key is that the braid requires the reader to be an active agent in the interpretative process (Comics and Narration 35). Buuck and Ryan demonstrate that many of the repeated elements—what they term "visual metaphors'—in Shaun Tan's The Arrival "offer opportunities for readers to superimpose their own lived experiences and cultural perspectives on the book's visual landscapes.' (from Introduction)

The Association for Children's & Youth Literature (AKJ) : Arbieitskreis Fur Jugendliteratur Robyn Sheahan-Bright , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Magpies : Talking About Books for Children , May vol. 32 no. 2 2017; (p. 4-9)

'One of the many benefits of attending biennial International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY) Congresses in different countries, hosted by national sections, is meeting and befriending those engaged in book promotion all over the world and discovering how similar we are, despite our cultural differences. Doris Breitmoser has worked for The Association for Children's and Youth Literature (AKJ) Arbeitkreis fur Jugenliteratur for twenty years and has been its director since 2002. We met at the IBBY Congress in Santiago, Spain in 2010, again in 2014 in Mexico City, and most recently in 2016 in Auckland , NZ. Doris's work with AKJ is truly inspiring and so I share it with you here.' (Introduction)

Visions and Values : The Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Prizing of Picture Books in the Twenty-First Century Erica Hateley , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Canon Constitution and Canon Change in Children's Literature 2016; (p. 205-221)

'The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) administers the oldest national prize for children’s literature in Australia. Each year, the CBCA confers “Book of the Year” awards to literature for young people in five categories: Older Readers, Younger Readers, Early Childhood, Picture Books and Information Books. In recent years the Picture Book category has emerged as a highly visible space within which the CBCA can contest discourses of cultural marginalization which construct Australian (‘colonial’) literature as inferior or adjunct to the major Anglophone literary traditions, and children’s literature as lesser than its adult counterpart. The CBCA has moved from asserting its authority by withholding judgment in the award’s early years towards asserting expertise via overtly politicized selections in the twenty-first century. Reading across the CBCA’s selections of picture books allows for insights into wider trends in Australian children’s literature and culture, and suggests a conscious engagement with social as well as literary values on the part of the CBCA in the twenty-first century.'

Kids' Lit Jodie Minus , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 30 September - 1 October 2006; (p. 14)

— Review of The Arrival Shaun Tan , 2006 single work graphic novel ; Ten Things I Hate about Me Randa Abdel-Fattah , 2006 single work novel
Picture the Quest to Belong Jason Nahrung , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 14 - 15 October 2006; (p. 27)

— Review of The Arrival Shaun Tan , 2006 single work graphic novel
The Journey of The Arrival Deryck Greenwood , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Newsletter of the Australian Centre for Youth Literature , October no. 2 2006; (p. 12-13)

— Review of The Arrival Shaun Tan , 2006 single work graphic novel
A Collage of Visual Truths Angie Schiavone , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 4-5 November 2006; (p. 34-35)

— Review of The Arrival Shaun Tan , 2006 single work graphic novel
This Week's Selections Katharine England , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 11 November 2006; (p. 12)

— Review of The Arrival Shaun Tan , 2006 single work graphic novel
Drawn to the Image Frances Atkinson , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 27 January 2007; (p. 26-27)
Horror of a Hit Jason Nahrung , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 3 - 4 February 2007; (p. 23)
Strangers in Strange Lands Shaun Tan , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: Viewpoint : On Books for Young Adults , Summer vol. 14 no. 4 2006; (p. 4-7)
Shaun Tan describes the creative process behind the development of The Arrival
Taking a Punt on This List Penelope Davie , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 21 - 22 April 2007; (p. 26)
Wins Put Tan in Picture Jason Steger , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 30 May 2007; (p. 2)
Last amended 6 May 2021 08:04:17