Today I introduced you to the book by Shaun Tan called The Arrival. As I explained, the story in this book is told completely without words. It could be called a very long picture book (at 128 pages), but usually The Arrival is referred to as a graphic novel.
Each of you have been given a copy of The Arrival. Today, everyone had the chance to look at the cover (front and back) of the book. As you will recall, we had a class discussion about observations made about the cover. Without knowing anything about the story inside, there were some great ideas about what the story might be about.
It was fun to guess what the little white creature on the front cover might be. We noticed it has gills and a long tongue which resembles an amphibian, but the ears and the funny smile made the creature look very strange, indeed! Celia noticed that the man was looking at the creature as if he wasn’t sure what it was either.
And, ooops. I let on that the creature shows up quite a bit in the story.
We discussed how the cover of the book makes it look very old and worn out. Most everyone decided that if they found this book somewhere, they wouldn’t mistake it for garbage though.
When everyone paired up, each group opened one copy of The Arrival up to a random spot. We made sure no two groups were looking at the same two pages. Remember, no peeking at any other pages was allowed for today!
Your in-class assignment was for each person in your group to pick a page, and to silently brainstorm what you think is going on in that page. You were asked to write down your ideas–but not to overthink things and make judgments. (Remember… there are no wrong answers here.) You might have used the freewriting technique, clustering/mindmapping), a list, or whatever works for you.
The goal was to just get those ideas down on paper.
You could have used what we discussed about the cover of the book to give you some clues about the story. If your page had more than one frame, you could have focused in on one or more of the frames to really explore what is happening.
Remember, that if you got stuck, you could ask yourself questions like:
- What do the faces of the characters tell me about their emotions?
- What is making them feel that way?
- What might have happened in the page before or after this one?
- What do the characters (or what does the character) on this page have to do with the cover?
- If the characters were speaking, what might they be saying?
- What objects are on the page? What do they remind you of?
- When do you think this story is taking place?
- Where do you think this story is taking place?
Your homework assignment today is to write a letter. You have 3 choices on how to approach this (but if you have a neat idea, run it by me, and we can see if it will work for this assignment):
- You might choose to write a letter to one of the characters.
- You might choose to write a letter as one of the characters.
- You might write a letter to a friend, describing your observations as if you witnessed this scene in real life.
In your letter, use your brainstorming paper(s) to provide descriptive details to whoever will receive your letter. Try to make them feel like they saw what you did when you were looking at your illustration.
Tomorrow, it will be fun to compare your partner’s letter with your own to see how different (or similar) your versions of The Arrival are so far.
After you have some time to share with your partner, you will read your partner’s letter aloud to the class and your partner will read yours.
I wish I hadn’t read The Arrival yet, just so I could have fresh eyes to do this activity with you!
P.S. When I revealed that the little creature on the cover shows up throughout the story, Sethe asked if we could name it. To get the ball rolling, comment on this post with your ideas for a name. We’ll decide a little later on, and you aren’t required to post, but feel free to jump in now if you have any faves.
P.P.S. Whew! Like I told you, I was a little nervous about asking 8th graders to trust me when I told you yesterday that the next book we were going to explore was one without any words. Some of you told me right away that you’ve read Manga that is wordless or nearly wordless, too. This should be an adventure for all of us, and a nice change of pace since we’ve been doing so much reading.
◊◊◊◊Note: The image used in this blog entry is a cover shot of The Arrival by Shaun Tan. You may access it on Mr. Tan’s website by visiting http://www.shauntan.net//books.html (Click on the link to The Arrival) or at http://www.shauntan.net/images/books/the-arrival.jpg.◊◊◊◊