The Arrival Analysis: This webpage will provide an analysis of chapter 2 of the picture book, The Arrival. Other webpages will devote analysis to subsequent chapters of the The Arrival.The analysis webpages will outline, in detail, how to use The Arrival as a primary oral and written language intervention text.
The Arrival is a complex book with many themes to explore and requires maximal scaffolding for younger students. Some of the book's themes will be explored on this webpage.
Graphic Novel Format - The Arrival Analysis
The Arrival is a picture book that perhaps has more in common with the graphic novel format than classic picture book design. The book has no recognisable text. The story is instead propelled forward by Shaun Tan's highly detailed illustrations. The Arrival is the story of an immigrant family's journey to a strange country to forge a new and better life.
The story appears to be set sometime in late 19th and early 20th century, in what is essentially an alternate world. A world that is both familiar and yet has strong fantastical elements. According to Shaun Tan, many of the illustrations are based on photographs and autobiographical accounts of the mass immigration to countries such as the United States and Australia that occurred during the early to mid 20th century.
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Target Text - The Arrival Analysis
Title: The Arrival
Author: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN 13: 9780340969939
The Arrival is a 128 page wordless, hardcover picture book. The Arrival can be purchased at book depository which has free worldwide shipping.
The language intervention method used to access The Arrival's themes and topics is communicative reading strategies. CRS, or shared strategic reading, is a series of scaffolded techniques that are effective at making reading of text (or indeed, wordless picture books) a meaning making event, particularly for students who struggle to comprehend much of what they read.
CRS consists of a number of cueing strategies whereby a clinician engages students in a form of scaffolded dialogue which is centred on themes and events depicted in a storybook, often a picturebook. Cues that access print, illustrations, context, and prior knowledge are used in a systematic way to unlock a book's deeper meaning.
Please download the shared strategic reading cue examples to aid you when first using CRS.
Discussing information that is related to the target story is an important first step when analyzing text or a story's themes. Prestory knowledge discussion, or preparatory set, helps to activate a student's knowledge about a particular subject. One of the main themes in the Arrival is immigration, which is a subject we will discuss before the student begins reading/analyzing the book in detail.
The clinician begins the session by telling the student that they will read the first chapter of the Arrival together. Because the Arrival is a wordless book, the clinician and student spend the time slowly looking, in depth, at the illustrations in chapter one. The Arrival is about immigration. The following prestory discussion took place between the clincian and a ten year old student named Alex.
Clinician: "The Arrival is a graphic novel. Graphic novels tell a story often only with images and no text, as in this book. The pictures and the picture sequence tell the story, a little like a comic book."
The clinician places the prestory graphic organizer in front of Alex.
Clinician: "We're going to talk a little about the themes in this book. Probably the most important theme is the theme of immigration. Have you heard of immigration Alex?"
Alex: "I've heard the word. Don't know what it means."
Clinician: "Let's begin by looking up the word in a dictionary."
Alex, with some assistance, finds the word immigration in a dictionary. The dictionary states that immigration is 'to move to a country of which one is not a native in order to settle there.'
Clinician: "Immigration is about a person or people moving to another country to start a new life. I'd like you to write immigration in the top box please Alex."
Alex writes immigration in the top box on the prestory graphic organizer following a prompt from the clinician.
Clinician: "I'd like us to fill in the middle three boxes. We are going to select words that link with our key word, immigration. Looking at our definition, what are some words that immigration conjures for us?"
Alex remains silent initially, then says, "It means to leave?"
Clinician: "Yes, certainly, immigration is about leaving one country to travel to another country." (extension) "Let's write the word leaving in the centre box."
Alex writes the word leaving in the centre middle box.
Clinician:"Ok, now let's think of two other words that immigration is connected to. How would you feel Alex if you had to leave all your family and friends and go on a journey to live in another country, all by yourself?" (generalization)
Clinician:"Yes, you would feel sad. Write sadness in the one of the boxes. There is another word which we haven't discussed but which immigration is all about. To immigrate is to go on a jour... (cloze procedure)
Clinician: "A journey, yes. Exactly. To immigrate is to go on a journey. Write journey in the remaining box."
Alex writes journey and sadness in the middle tier boxes.
Clinician:"If we use a thesaurus to explore the three words we can see that journey is connected to voyage and adventure, leaving is connected to migrate and flee, and sadness is connected to grief and heartache. Write those words in the remaining boxes please."
Summarization of Prestory Discussion - The Arrival Analysis
Clinician: "We've looked at the theme of immigration in some detail. We know that immigration is about leaving one country to travel to another. In many cases, people immigrate to start a new life in another country because the new country may present oppurtunities that their home country doesn't. We explored the themes of sadness, going on a journey, and the concept of leaving."
The clinician opens the book to the first page few pages which features the man and his wife in the kitchen.
Clinician: "Lets have a look at the first chapter of the The Arrival now in more detail. Interestingly, all of the themes we've discussed so far feature strongly in the first chapter."
Both the clinician and Alex spend time examining the first few pages which feature two pages of nine panels each and a full page image of a husband and wife in a kitchen. The wife grasps her husband's hand as he packs clothes into a suitcase which rests on the kitchen table.
Clinician: "This is an interesting picture. We have seen the man packing his clothes into the suitcase. What else did he pack?" The clinician points to different parts of the illustrations.
Alex: "A photo."
Clinician: "Why has he packed a photo?"
Alex: "Because he'll miss them and stuff."
Clinician: "Yes, I agree. The man has packed a photograph of his family because he's going on a long trip. We talked before about immigration. We know to immigrate is to leave your home country to start a new life in another country. The man will miss his family because he may not see them for a long time." (expansion)
The clinician turns to the first page which features nine panels of individual drawings.
Clinician: "Look at the images here. The author has made drawings for some of the items. He wants us to notice the details in the kitchen I think. What do the drawings tell us about this family; what's about to happen?"
Alex: "Well, they look like they don't have much money."
The clinician nods and waits while Alex scans the illustration for more details.
Alex: "There's a drawing done by the girl...and there's a paper bird and a photo of them."
Alex has not provided much information at this stage, which is common with children with language difficulty. Alex's language use is also poor. He has noticed however that the family is poor. The clinician will use Alex's initial utterances to expand on the ideas featured on the first few pages.
Clinician: "Yes the family is poor. We can see by the cracked tea pot and the rough looking table. We'll come back to that theme later. The paper bird has been beautifully folded out of paper. It's called origami. There's an image here I'm particularly interested in. Look at the picture with the cup and saucer on the kitchen table. Just beneath the cup are a few pieces of paper. What do you think they could be?"
A close up of the image reveals a postcard sized image of a ship and several printed pieces of paper.
Alex: "The man's going on a ship?"
Clinician: "Yes, part of the man's journey will probably take place on a ship. (expansion)The picture of the paper and the ship are probably a ticket. Remember what we said before about immigration, we know that the man is going on a long journey. He may be travelling on a ship, which means he may have to sail half way around the world."
Chapter 1, The Arrival Analysis cont...
The clinician turns the page which reveals the small family walking out of their apartment and down the street. The man holds his suitcase and wears a coat and a hat. On the wall above the family is what appears to be the shadow of a dragon's tail. The next page is a striking double page spread of the family walking through the village. Huge dragon tails can be seen snaking in and out the village streets.
Clinician: "Wow, the place they live looks pretty scary. What do you think those dark shadows might be?"
Alex: "They look like dragons or something."
Clinician: "The dragon tails could represent something else. The author may be suggesting that the place the family lives in is not safe. He may be using a visual metaphor. So the dragons' tails, though they may not be real, represent a threat of some kind."
Alex: "You mean not dragons?"
Clinician: "Well dragons aren't necessarily real, even in this story. The family may actually live in a warzone, and the tails could represent planes dropping bombs, or even represent the threat of imprisonment. People immigrate to other countries for many reasons. Often, it is because their families are under threat, either from an invading army, or from their own government at times."
The use of metaphor or figurative language is a difficult concept for children like Alex to grasp and will require more work and be restated repeatedly as Alex works through the graphic novel.
Clinician:"The family feels threatened, which a huge reason as to why the man is attempting to immigrate to another country. Now, whether the dragon tails are real or represent a possible warzone, they do imply a threat of some kind. Do you agree?"
Clinician: "I want us to explore in more detail what threat is and how it relates to this family. Here is a semantic map which we will complete together."
Both clinician and Alex consult a dictionary and find the definition for threat. Alex fills in each box on the semantic map using a thesaurus with scaffolding provided by the clinician. The clinician then summarizes the word threat.
Clinician: "Threat is about a warning of possible trouble. Threat can be used to intimidate and control people and is often found in warzones and other unsafe places. Threat is associated with words such as menace, danger, risk, fear and anxiety."
Clinician: "All of the words we have explored on the semantic map to do with threat are associated with this family. I'm reasonably confident that the man is leaving the country to begin a new life for his family due to threat of war or persecution."
Alex: "What's persecution?"
Clinician: "Well, let's look it up in the dictionary."
Both the clinician and Alex search through the dictionary and then discuss the meaning of persecution, which is to drive away or subjugate people due to race or beliefs. The clinician then links the persecution of people to the metaphor of dragon tails, again reinforcing the point that the dragon tails may be perhaps a symbol of persecution, etc.
The clinician turns the page which features a number of panels that show the man saying farewell to his family.
Clinician: "We've now reached the climactic part of the chapter where the man must leave his wife and daughter. He has to board the train to go on his journey. The father has made an origami bird for his daughter. The bird is shaped like a dove, which is perhaps a symbol of hope. The origami bird as a symbol turns up in the book again, much later. We'll return to the origami bird again another time."
The clinician places the completed prestory semantic map in front of Alex.
Clinician: "If we look at our prestory map again, one of the themes we identified with immigration was sadness. What were two synonyms of sadness that we identified? Look for the two boxes that are linked beneath sadness."
Alex finds the words, grief and heartache. Following a prompt from the clinician, Alex searches through the dictionary again and discovers that grief refers to keen suffering over loss and heartache refers to emotional pain or distress.
Clinician: "When we look at the faces of the family and their gestures, what do we see?"
Alex: "The wife is crying. Um...the man gives his wife and the daughter a hug."
Clinician: "Here the man is saying something to his wife before he boards the train. Look carefully at the wife's expression. What could he be saying to her?"
Alex: "Um, goodbye."
Clinician: "Certainly he is saying goodbye, but he may also be reassurring her that all will be well and that he will see them again. The wife is in tears, but I get the impression that she is listening very closely to her husband's words of comfort."
The clinician gives some time for these words to register with Alex and points at the wife's face and the husband's face.
Clinician: "The husband has to be strong and do the right thing, which is to comfort his family but also get on the train. He knows the family's future security and happiness is bound to his decision to leave and start a new life in a safer place. We feel for this family because we can assume that they don't have enough money to pay for more than one fare. On the final page of the chapter we see the mother and daughter return to their apartment with the ever present threat of the dragon tails sliding above them in the sky."
Alex is encouraged by the clinician to find the word comfort in the dictionary. Alex finds two entries for comfort: a noun and a verb. The clinician suggests that the man comforts his wife, so in effect he consoles and reassures her, which are all verbs. Alex is instructed to write the verb form meaning of comfort into a scrapbook with a list of new words related to themes in The Arrival.
The clinician next instructs Alex to complete a semantic map for the word sadness.
Both the clinician and Alex consult a dictionary and find the definition for sadness. Alex fills in each box of the semantic/adjective map using a thesaurus with scaffolding provided by the clinician. The clinician then summarizes the word sadness and the first chapter. Note the use of key words that have been targeted throughout the first chapter of The Arrival.
Clinician: "Sadness is related to feelings of grief and loss and feeling sorrowful. Sadness is the opposite of happiness. We can assume that the family in this story are feeling many emotions related to sadness and loss, but also comfort I think. And we must also recognise that there is hope for a better life."
Clinician: "The origami bird I think is a symbol of hope for this family. Hope for a new beginning, as the father and the family make the very brave decision to travel to a new world. We know that immigration to a new country is important for this family because of the ever present threat of some impending disaster, represented by the shadow of dragons."
The clinician targeted several themes from chapter 1 of Shaun Tan's, The Arrival. Much scaffolding of language concepts was provided by the clinician due to the student's poor grasp of key concepts and themes in the book. The clinician provided all of the structure and engaged the student with strategic questioning to enable him to look beyond the surface meaning of the story and begin to explore the book's complex themes.
The goal is to eventually withdraw some of the scaffolding and prompt the student to form his own conclusions about the story's themes and character motivations. These skills will be explored in subsequent chapters of The Arrival.
Collins Essential Dictionary and Thesaurus (2007) Harper Collins Publishers
DeKemel, K.P. (2003) Intervention in Language Arts: A Practical Guide for Speech-Language Pathologists. Butterworth-Heinemann
Paul, R. (2007) Language Disorders from Infancy through Adolescence. Assessment and Intervention. Mosby
Tan, S. (2007) The Arrival Hodder Children's Books
Ukrainetz, T.A. (2007) Contextualized Language Intervention: Scaffolding PreK-12 Literacy Achievement PRO-ED inc
Wallach, G.P. (2008) Language Intervention for School-Age Students: Setting Goals for Academic Success. Mosby Elsevier