Year 6 ‘The Arrival’ by Shaun Tan
In Year 6 we are reading Shaun Tan’s excellent picture book ‘The Arrival,’ a wordless graphic novel about those who journey alone to a mysterious country, a place without family or friends, where everything is nameless and the future is unknown. So far we have explored the text with various drama activities and written our own words to read alongside the opening chapter.
by Annie 6HG
A white, origami bird sat on the mantelpiece. Next to it, a crumpled drawing of a man, a woman and a young girl. In the drawing the man seemed to have some kind of bird perched on his shoulders. As well as that, there were two cracked teacups sitting quietly on the table waiting to be used but recently this family had been too anxious for tea.
Early in the morning, the grandfather clock chimed as Theresa rested her hand on Albert’s. On the distressed shelf sat an ancient back and white photo of both Teresa and Albert with their daughter Melissa, all smiling happily although now it seemed as though they would never smile again. Although he knew his wife was worried, Albert still wondered what it would be like without them and if he would forget them even though he loved them. After a quick glance at the clock, Albert was gestured by Theresa to sit down one of the house’s dilapidated chairs.
“One more thing to pack,” she mumbled by his ear as she carefully lifted the photo off the mantelpiece and lay it before him. A single tear trickled down her cheek; hurriedly she wiped it off.
In the small room upstairs, the lumpy blanket was pulled back by Melissa as she yawned and began to get up. On the way downstairs before an ordinary breakfast, Melissa noticed that her black-and-white family photo wasn’t where it usually was, but – under the impression nothing was wrong – she continued. In the worn-down kitchen, Melissa sat eating her gruel-like porridge when suddenly, in the corner of her eye, she was what would make her worst nightmare come to life – a suitcase. This particular suitcase was usually hidden under her mother and father’s bed.
“what’s happening?” she asked, as her mother entered the room.
“Your father, darling,” Theresa replied, “He’s leaving to go somewhere.”
“Because if he doesn’t, we won’t have enough money for food and water.”
“How long will he be gone for?”
“I don’t know darling.”
Theresa briskly helped her daughter put on her oversized boots and long beige coat while Albert took one last heartwarming look at his house. As he reached out to grab his tattered suitcase, Melisa ran over to him and hugged him, never wanting to let go.
The underprivileged family stepped out, holding hands, and began their walk towards the station. Holding hands with her parents, Melissa’s eyes wandered carelessly as she continued down the street with dark shadows lurking at every corner and restless eyes watching her ever more. Melissa wondered if other people could see them too or if it was only her. As she canned the sky for gloomy creatures, she saw grey clouds engulfing houses and shadowy tentacles clinging onto cars. Cars, swerving round corners, stopped as long, slimy fingers flew past them. Were they really there? Houses, watching people who pass by, looked away as the grey, staring eyes glanced at them.
As the distressed family walked slowly into the inexpensive train station, where people get ready for long trips, Albert reached up to his hat and took out a plain-white origami bird like the one on their shelf at home. He handed it cautiously to his daughter, hoping it would be something to remember him by. As he carefully stepped one foot onto the train steps, a tear trickled down Albert’s face. His hand drew back from Theresa’s and both Melissa and her mother started to shed tears as Albert and the rest of the people on the train rode rapidly into the distance, leaving just the people who wouldn’t go – who couldn’t go.
As slowly as they could, the mother and daughter began their trek back up towards where it would be hardest to cope with being alone and without Albert and all of his amazing characteristics.