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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

Broadening Your Students' Horizon : A Case Study of Text Selection in the Diverse and Changing World Elizabeth Little , Kendall Aglinskas , 2022 single work criticism
— Appears in: English in Australia , vol. 57 no. 1 2022; (p. 15-27)
Cultural Diversity and Australian Comics Golnar Nabizadeh , 2021 single work essay
— Appears in: Folio : Stories of Contemporary Australian Comics , December 2021;
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)
y separately published work icon Representation and Memory in Graphic Novels Golnar Nabizadeh , London : Routledge , 2019 27121916 2019 multi chapter work criticism

'This book analyses the relationship between comics and cultural memory. By focussing on a range of landmark comics from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the discussion draws attention to the ongoing role of visual culture in framing testimony, particularly in relation to underprivileged subjects such as migrants and refugees, individuals dealing with war and oppressive regimes and individuals living with particular health conditions. The discussion is influenced by literary and cultural debates on the intersections between ethics, testimony, trauma, and human rights, reflected in its three overarching questions: ‘How do comics usually complicate the production of cultural memory in local contents and global mediascapes?’, ‘How do comics engage with, and generate, new forms of testimonial address?’, and ‘How do the comics function as mnemonic structures?

'The author highlights that the power of comics is that they allow both creators and readers to visualise the fracturing power of violence and oppression – at the level of the individual, domestic, communal, national and international – in powerful and creative ways. Comics do not stand outside of literature, cinema, or any of the other arts, but rather enliven the reciprocal relationship between the verbal and the visual language that informs all of these media. As such, the discussion demonstrates how fields such as graphic medicine, graphic justice, and comics journalism contribute to existing theoretical and analytics debates, including critical visual theory, trauma and memory studies, by offering a broad ranging, yet cohesive, analysis of cultural memory and its representation in print and digital comics.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

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)

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