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The Arrival by Shaun Tan
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The Arrival by Shaun Tan
(prop: old suitcase with travel stickers)

Being an immigrant was often a lonely and scary situation.
One was without a home or a country, and far away from family and friends and everything familiar. The experience of immigration is difficult to describe in words because often words don’t translate from one culture to another. The new language is foreign, unreadable and unspeakable, the sites and sounds strange, fantastic, even magical but indescribable.

In Shaun Tan’s The Arrival pictures tell the story words cannot: the packing of a precious family memento in a single suitcase, the leaving on a huge ship for a seemingly endless voyage, the process of getting one’s papers, the overwhelming strangeness of an enormous new city, the loneliness of a barren, tiny apartment, the frustration of finding a job, the making of new friends, the exoticness of novel tastes and smells. Very gradually, one begins to appreciate the great adventure that moving to a new country truly was, not just for one man and his family, but for a number of people.

To experience what is was to be a newly arrived immigrant,
pick up a copy of The Arrival and get lost in the lyrical images that relay the historical journey of many who came to America.

AHK-3662, Grades 9-12, Historical Fiction
Carolyn D. Reed, Submitted 4-15-2008

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