The Arrival by Shaun Tan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sepia-toned illustrations depict an immigrant's challenging journey into a strange new world.
Leaving behind a dragon-haunted city to start a new life for himself and his family, a young father encounters a world unlike the one he left behind. Nothing is familiar - the language, the buildings, or the food.
The expressive, wordless images manage to convey the emotions of being thrown into a new environment without a guide. The newcomer encounters other immigrants who have their own stories of dislocation to share; they also generously offer aid to the newcomer in their chosen country.
It amazes me how the play of images can convey deep emotions without soundtrack or words. The best silent films manage the trick: One Week by Buster Keaton is a twenty-minute movie that is hilarious and heartwarming as a hilariously inept young couple attempts to put together their first home. (City Lights starring Charlie Chaplin is a feature-length silent film that is famous for tugging the heartstrings.) Best yet, because One Week is out of copyright, you can watch the entire thing for free!
The Arrival is a lovely book, and a good introduction for any unfamiliar with graphic novels. It will appeal to adults and teens alike. For more wordless picture books for all ages, check out this Goodreads list.