Shaun Tan and "The Arrival"

Sophie's post made me think about kids' authors/illustrators I loved growing up (and now.) Chris Van Allsburg is right up there at the top with Dr. Seuss; I STILL get chills reading the polar express (although that may have more to do with my memories of hearing William Hurt's voice from the audio recording.) Shaun Tan, however, is my nomination for the best kids-book illustrator working today. His mix of whimsy, surrealism, skill, and intense creativity put him head and shoulders above anything else I've read in the field. A good example of his art can be found in "The Red Tree", but his recently released masterpiece "The Arrival" took my breath away. It's a silent (wordless) graphic novel rendered in soft pastel shades, depicting the emigration of a man from his crumbling, broken homeland, to a strange and utterly foreign city where he can start new. It's a clear parallel to the immigrant experience at Ellis Island, but in recreating New York so as to be as beautiful, surreal, and bewildering to us as it would be to a newcomer, we are forced to see it through his eyes.


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