Monday, July 27, 2009
Review #37: The Arrival
Isaac (age 10): "The Arrival."
Dad: A wonderful wordless book.
Lily (age 6): It is written by Shaun Tan.
Gracie (age 9): This book is about a boy... a person, not a boy... well, it is a boy - he's an adult though.
Dad: A man?
Gracie: A man!
Dad: That is what an adult boy is called.
Gracie: HA ha hahha ha ha! A man going to a new country.
Isaac: The man had to leave his family because it was too dangerous where they were. Later on he would bring his family with him to the new country.
Lily: There were dragons where the guy lived. Dragon tails.
Isaac: Shadows of dragon tails.
Gracie: A thousand black dragon tails all over the city.
Isaac: The man had to go days and days on a ship, crossing the sea. Finally he got to the new country.
Gracie: This new world is strange.
Lily: It was weird. It had different animals and things.
Isaac: Everything was new. Including lampposts in the water, which I've never heard of. And there were floating boats.
Lily: The new country has animals that are strange and cute. And some of them were freaky. And the plants and trees were even different.
Isaac: When the man first got to the new country, he had to get all checked out, and he had to get a million stickers all over his coat. Then he got a passport-thing. And then he went up in this air-balloon-elevator which took him to his new apartment.
Gracie: His house has weird stuff in it.
Isaac: I wonder what you use that pot-thing for.
Gracie: I wonder what you use that giant fire-thing for.
Dad: The man in the story is probably asking the same questions.
Isaac: The fire could be for roasting marshmallows. But they don't have "marshmallows" in this country, so it's for roasting "Garshkallobs."
Gracie: He feels strange.
Lily: He feels sad without his family.
Gracie: Why did he leave?
Dad: Well, that happened a lot in the olden days. Even nowadays. People leave their families to go to a new country, and they try to make enough money so they can send for their families to come join them there.
Lily: The man was lonely.
Gracie: "I'm lonely, oh no, what do I do?"
Lily: But then he got a pet!
Gracie: His buddy!
Isaac: He finds a weird little monster.
Dad: Everyone in that new country ends up with a pet.
Gracie: All the pets there are really, really cute. And when the man got his pet he was like, "Now I have a friend. My friend helps me. I'm not sad."
Dad: The man had a lot of helpers in this book.
Gracie: That makes us want to help people too.
Dad: After reading this, we have a better idea what someone in a new place feels like.
Gracie: Next, the man has to find food and a job.
Isaac: But he was all confused, and he met some people who helped him. They were trying to be nice.
Lily: He had to get a lady to help him. And his pet found a new friend.
Gracie: What is that lady's pet? An owl-bunny?
Isaac: An animal that you've never heard of before.
Dad: If you moved to a new place, you couldn't let yourself feel embarrassed about asking people for help.
Isaac: We can all say we've been embarrassed at least once.
Dad: But you don't have to be embarrassed about not knowing something, right? It's always good to ask questions.
Lily: Can I sit on your lap, Dad?
Dad: See, that is a good question.
Isaac: When the man went food shopping, more people helped him.
Dad: These people are helping him even though they will probably never see him again.
Lily: But they can still be friends for that short time.
Isaac: He found the weirdest plants in the world. Including those weird-strawberry-fruits. Crazy new food.
Dad: How did things go when he looked for a job?
Isaac: Not so well. He tried two jobs, and they did not go well because he couldn't read their language.
Dad: It was cool writing that Shaun Tan invented.
Isaac: You know what it looks like? It looks like Cambodian writing. Finally the man finds another job, working at a factory that makes baby-bottle-container-things, and he stands all day picking out the bad ones.
Dad: Not fun, but it gave him the money he needed.
Isaac: Yep. And he met a friend at work. They went out and played a game, and the man did really good on the game even thought he didn't know what in the world he was doing.
Dad: The man ends up meeting lots of people that moved to this new country for different reasons.
Lily: There was a guy who ran away from monsters in his country too.
Gracie: His old country had gi-normous dudes with bazooka-vacuum-cleaner-things sucking people into their air tanks and using them for who knows what.
Dad: Like a nightmare.
Gracie: Why were they doing that?
Dad: Don't know.
Lily: Because they are naughty.
Gracie: Because they are monsters.
Lily: They were worse than the dragon tails. They suck up everything and they are dangerous! And the dragon tails are just spiky.
Isaac: We don't really know what the dragon tails do.
Dad: So, time passes... the man has his job... he saves some money...
Isaac: And after a while, he was finally able to bring over his family.
Gracie: They all got happy.
Isaac: And hugged and kissed and became a family again.
Isaac: It all ends in happiness.
Dad: This book is cool because it's almost like we are going to the new country. We don't understand all the strange new things either. It's like we're experiencing it all right along with the man. Instead of just telling us what it's like to be an immigrant, the book shows us. It makes us feel it.
Gracie: It's a country of weirdness.
Lily: It's the country of stickers-on-your-coat.
Dad: I know what Gracie would think is the worst part about going to a different country. You wouldn't eat any of the strange new food.
Dad: Even if it was the most delicious food ever -- you'd never even try it to find out, would you?
Lily: I wouldn't do it either.
Dad: You wouldn't try new food? Eventually you'd guys would have to, or you'd starve.
Lily: I would bring food from my own country.
Dad: That wouldn't last forever.
Lily: I'd go back to my own country then.
Dad: Remember, the man rode a big boat for days and days to get there. He can't just go back and forth.
Lily: Then I wouldn't go away from my country.
Dad: What if there were big dudes with sucker-vacuums?
Lily: Then I would go into the basement.
Dad: You would rather live in a basement forever, in a country with big sucker-dudes outside, than go to a new country and try new food?
Dad: Alright, who wants to tell me about the pictures in this book...
Lily: The pictures are cool and awesome, and I love them.
Gracie: The pictures are all black and white. Sometimes brown and yellow.
Isaac: But it's not boring.
Gracie: Because they have lots of detail.
Isaac: This book must have taken a year to finish. Or two. One or two years.
Dad: In the back of the book it says that it took "four years of research, development, and drawing." So he was working on this book for longer than Elijah has been alive.
Gracie: That's a lot of years.
Isaac: That would drive me nutso. That would drive me crazy. Would it drive you crazy?
Lily: Oh yeah. It would drive me really, really crazy.
Dad: But are we glad Shaun Tan did it?
Lily: If he didn't make this book, I'd be crying my head off.
Gracie: I want to hang this picture on my wall!
Dad: Tell everyone about it.
Gracie: It's a picture of these paper-plate-bird-things flying in some leaf-grass-plants with a huge beautiful sun, and it's really, really pretty.
Isaac: Shaun Tan has a good imagination.
Lily: And I really like the cutie animal guys.
Gracie: Yeah, my favorite part of the book is seeing all the cute little animal-pet-thingies.
Isaac: I like that one guy's pet in the basket. It's cool.
Gracie: I like the vegetable man's pet.
Isaac: What are those things? Bunnies?
Gracie: I think they're bunny-mice.
Dad: Would you like to go to a new country like the one in this book?
Gracie: I would like to live in a city like that. It's cool. And I could climb on the statue of the giant candycane-bird-thing holding an egg.
Isaac: It would be cool to go there if you knew the language.
Dad: What if you didn't know the language?
Isaac: It would be maddening.
Dad: It would be scary, wouldn't it? To set out into a world you didn't know anything about? Imagine if I just plopped you down in a big city in Germany and said, "Alright, fend for yourselves." Would you know where to go? Would you know what to do? Would you know how to get around?
Gracie: I would go to a German orphanage.
Dad: How would you find a German orphanage?
Gracie: I would find a big German map of the world.
Dad: But how would you know where the orphanages were? You wouldn't be able to read the map.
Isaac: How could the man get a job if he didn't know the language?
Dad: Are there people that come to our country that don't know the language? And they have to find jobs. How do you think they do it?
Isaac: They learn the language.
Dad: Over time. But they would still need a job in the meantime. Think how hard that would be. This book is a pretend story, but things like this really do go on aaaaall the time.
Isaac: They could do painting. That doesn't require talking.
Dad: Sure. And they have to find nice people who are willing to give them a chance... people to be gracious to them.
Gracie: So far the man in the book has been in luck. So far he's found nice people to help him.
Lily: Maybe the idea for this book came from real life. Maybe the author went to a different country and he explored it.
Gracie: I know a girl who moved here from China. She's in my drama camp.
Dad: Any last thoughts on the book?
Gracie: This book is a cool adventure.
Lily: It is a nicely, strangely, weirdish story.
Isaac: It's a magical new world.
Dad: Did this book teach you anything?
Lily: It taught me not to whine when I move to a different country and to try new foods that look disgusting.
Published, 2007: Arthur A. Levine Books
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