The Arrival is difficult to compare to the other works of literature that we have read simply because it contains no words. It is the story of an immigrant heading to a strange new world where he knows no one and nothing of the culture. The Arrival is reminiscent of numerous stories that came out of Ellis Island. The man in the book comes to an unfamiliar land to escape danger back home and work for the money he needs to send for his family. However, the entire story is told through a series of graphic novel-esque pictures. The pencil drawings are stunning and full of imagination, depicting a world unlike anything else I have ever seen.
The idea of a wordless book is not new to me. As a preschool teacher, I would integrate one or two a month into the books I shared with my class. They were a great way to encourage imagination. I would have different students narrate the books, which would help them develop knowledge of voice and point of view. The books tend to have amazing pictures and fantasy driven story lines; however, I have never seen a wordless picture book that is this advanced and this long. It certainly does not fit the standard 32- page picture book model. By omitting words and names of any kind, Tan manages to communicate a common story without references to any race, culture, or country. Anyone who looks at this book could understand the story despite his or her background, and I think that is a wonderful thing. So while comparison to books with text is difficult, I can certainly see the use and intention behind this book.