"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)
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
Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Numeracy, Personal and social
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.
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.
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)
'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)
'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.'