The Arrival – first person recounts

In literacy we have been looking at The Arrival, a picture book by Shaun Tan about immigration. This is an excellent book and one that I would recommend to parents to read as well. A link to the animated version is embedded below.

We looked carefully at the stories of three immigrants that the main protagonist meets when he arrives at a new country. The children were set the task of retelling from their point of view how their lives were different before they reached their new home. The children were asked to produce a piece of writing which would result in an emotive reaction as the reader felt empathy with the character. Here’s Sam’s recount.

Sam L

I’m Moi Song Yong. When I was younger I was caught reading a book of a banned religion. Some horrible men didn’t like the book so they got angry.

They grabbed me round the neck, gave me a death stare and looked at me like a tiger about to swallow its prey. They snatched the book off me and threw it in a drawer, locked it away, and finally shoved me in a furnace room. In the room I would survive only on rations of bread and water, my only companion the bright orange flames that licked against the pipe just above the furnace.  It was silent, cold and boring. All I was allowed to do was scoop coal into the depths of the brightly lit furnace.

My next task was to climb up the highest chimney. It was as if I was a rat and the chimney was a giraffe. Until about half way up I was doing well then it was bendy poles acting as a ladder. I did this job every day for my whole childhood.

One day I had enough. I grabbed a shovel… rammed it into the door… pulled the door open… and as silently as a snake stalking its prey, I crept out of the door.


I hoped they didn’t hear me. ‘Now for the tricky part,’ I thought.  I crept down the hallway and stole my book back. I sat in the door way until a train slowed down to stop for a delivery. A wave of excitement crushed over me, I sprinted down the wet, swamp like field and climbed into the train.

And that’s how I got here.



Shaun Tan – The Arrival Animation from Frederik Vorndran on Vimeo.

This entry was posted in Literacy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *