Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Arrival *Review*

A stop at the library yesterday netted a first for me- a graphic novel. I have never read a graphic novel before but after reading a post written by At Home With Books I figured I had to give it a try. It seems graphic novels aren't just glorified Spiderman comic books similar to what my son picked out to use for his Reading merit badge for Boy Scouts several years ago.

Several graphic novels were listed in the post but alas, my regional library only carried two of them so I came home with both. The novel I sat down with yesterday- The Arrival by Shaun Tan, was not only my first graphic novel it was also my first ever wordless book (is that cheating?). I figured this 128p. book would be an easy start for me and I would be pounding out a review in just under 1/2 hour. Surprisingly, it took me a couple of hours to "read".

Without words, each picture must be carefully perused to make sure hidden meanings and subtle nuances are not overlooked. Each sepia-toned square of artwork tells a small part of the big story. When we see, after the main character boards a ship, 60 pictures of sky and clouds we understand the length of the journey he must endure as he leaves his homeland in search of a better life for him and his family. When we see the lines of people in the immigration halls we see the hour after hour wait to get identification papers. When we see the look of confusion and hopelessness on our hero's face we understand how hard it is to communicate with others who speak a language so foreign from their own.

I will admit I will never look at a graphic novel as just a comic book again. And while it will probably never be one of my favorite genres, I am intrigued enough to try a couple more. Do you read many graphic novels? What are some you would recommend?


  1. This is a great post! I have yet to read a graphic novel and the ones I have seen have looked "comicy". This one here looks different. I want to read one as well, you know just to be considered one of the "cool kids" that has...LOL...

    Let me know when you are checking this one in, I think I would like to try it too.

  2. I love the idea of a book without words! I read a graphic novel for the read-a-thon and paid very little attention to the details of the drawing as I was reading along. If it's true that every picture tells a story, then I guess you don't really need the words.

  3. I love graphic novels! I try to save many of my graphic novels for quick summer reads. I did enjoy The Arrival, so I'm glad you had a chance to pick it up. Some books I've read in the past include...
    Mars series by Fugumi Soryo
    Kitchen Princess series by Miyuki Kobayashi
    Babymouse series by Jennifer Holm
    Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka
    Owly series by Andy Runton
    Jellaby series by Kean Soo
    Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
    To dance : a memoir by Siena Cherson Siegel
    The Plain Janes series by Cecil Castellucci
    Happy Reading! ~ Miss Pippi

  4. Miss Pippi,
    Thanks for the great list of graphic novels to try out. It is so much better to go off a trusted source's list then to just pick one off a shelf. I'm going to my library's site now to see which of these they carry. Thanks!

  5. Definitely Rapunzel's Revenge and its brand new companion, Calamity Jack, by Shannon Hale!

  6. Wow ! That sounds interesting ! I am going to have try it.

  7. Ooh liking the list... I may snatch up a few of these suggestions as well. :)

  8. Isn't "The Arrival" amazing? One of my favorite books ever. I love how instead of just watching the character's story unfold, we truly journey WITH him in all his confusion and discovery.

    Rapunzel's Revenge is a pretty great graphic novel. As are the books in the Amulet series.


  9. Thanks for visiting and pointing me towards your review. This is such a great book; I'm glad you enjoyed it too. As you mentioned, I could have spent a lot more time studying each picture -- I borrowed a library copy when I was visiting my sister, so I didn't have very much time to "read" this book.

    I second the recommendations to read the Owly books (also wordless and very sweet) and The Plain Janes (as well as its sequel, Janes in Love). I also recommend Skim by Mariko Tamaki, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and The Impostor's Daughter by Laurie Sandell (there is nudity in that last one, so if that bothers you, skip it).

    I've linked to your review in mine!