The Arrival

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Part One:

Tan, S. (2006). The Arrival. New York, NY. Arthur A. Levine Books.

Illustrated by Shaun Tan.

Fiction. Grade Level: 5-8

Part Two:


Before opening The Arrival  I fell in love with the front cover. I did not know anything about the book prior to reading it. I thought the book was going to be about a salesman who encounters a strange world. Of course, once I opened the book, I realized there were no words and thought it would be a child’s book, however I was wrong.

Thoughts about particular issues raised in the book

The biggest issue raised by this book is about being a foreigner in a new country. Leaving behind the ones you love and wondering when you would ever see them again. How would you communicate with people who do not speak your language and you do not speak their language? Things like finding a place to stay or where to buy food become issues you need to solve. How will you get a job? Meeting new friends with a language barrier. The loneliness that you would feel. These are some major issues this book brings to mind when reading it.

Part Three:

The Arrival is a unique book with no words. The illustrations are in sepia tone and appear to be set in the past. The story is about a man’s journey to a new land in which he leaves behind a wife and child. He arrives in this new land without knowing the language or knowing anyone. He is met by others who seem to be willing to help him find shelter and food. He is lonely, yet he has a companion of an animal. He seems to write many letters back home with money he earns from his job. Along the way, he encounters other foreigners who have their own back stories in which they arrived. In the end, his family is finally able to reunite with him. Along the journey of reading this book, I had to follow along closely with my imagination and sight to be able to follow along with this man’s journey.

Part Four:

After reading The Arrival, the student will be able to write a one-page essay about what they think the story is about.

Lesson Sketch

I will have each of the students read The Arrival on their own. While they are reading they will be taking notes in their reading notebook. They will write thoughts and ideas that will help them when they have to write their final paper. After reading the book, the class will have a discussion on the different ideas they each thought the story was about. The final project will be a one-page paper that explains the students’ own perspective in which the story was about.


  1. Why did the dad leave?
  2. Where did he go?
  3. What do you think the animal represented?



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