The Arrival

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Arrival Book Poster Image
Wordless immigrant story is a visual masterpiece.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.


Some images of people running from monsters. Pictures of war include skeletons, an amputee, and shattered homes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarettes pictured.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel that tells the story of an immigrant who leaves his troubled country to make a life in a new country. The realistic, sepia-toned illustrations are beautiful and expressive, yet the story can be a little hard to follow, making it best for middle elementary school kids and older.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJanelle Brin April 3, 2016

Moving, hopeful, and timely.

This is a true graphic novel (no text) that visually tells the story of a man who immigrates to another place in order to make a better life for himself, and ev... Continue reading
Parent of a 6 and 8-year-old Written bypeony April 9, 2008

Visually stunning; immerses viewer in immigrant disorientation, fears, hope

An amazing, beautiful work; deeply affecting. But I got this for myself, not for kids -- it won't necessarily be accessible to younger viewers.

There... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bydamian247365 April 24, 2018

Great Creativity! Forcefully persuaded the reader to think

The story is great for every one, therefore there's many different views from every different reader. Every reader takes the wordless book in a different w... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMurphythepotato March 23, 2017

This is THE best book


What's the story?

In a country beset with shadows and fear, a man leaves his wife and daughter behind to travel to a new country. Everything there is alien to him, even the language and alphabet. But, with the help of kind strangers and new friends, he's eventually able to find an apartment, make food, and get a job. And, finally, he's able to send for his wife and daughter.

Is it any good?

THE ARRIVAL has been called a graphic novel, but it bears little resemblance to others of that genre. It's completely wordless, and the pictures are a cross between scrapbook photos and storyboards for a silent movie. Done, incredibly, entirely in pencil and tinted in sepia tones, it's visually almost entirely metaphorical -- only the people, an array of nationalities and ethnicities, are recognizable. Everything else is designed to engender in the reader the same kind of awe and confusion that an immigrant might feel upon first arriving in a strange new country.

The Arrival is aimed at older children and adults, and kids will need some help from parents if they're to get anything out of it. It assumes a high degree of visual literacy, as well as familiarity with the immigrant experience. Even for older readers, it rewards repeat viewing and careful poring over and pondering of each frame. This brilliant and gorgeous book is in the vanguard of an evolution in literary and artistic forms. With the success of this book and others like it, we are likely to see a blossoming of new shoots and branches on the literary tree. If this is an example of the new directions they will take, long may they grow.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the visual metaphors throughout the book. What do the origami birds represent? What are all those monstrous shadows of tails hanging over the city?

  • How is this book different from a typical graphic novel? 

  • How do the colors in the book contribute to the mood and emotional tone?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love illustrations

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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