This book has no words, absolutely none. Through hundreds of realistic illustrations, Shaun Tan tells the story of a man leaving his haunted country to start anew across the ocean. The man struggles to navigate this foreign world, full of mysterious symbols, bizarre creatures, and unrecognizeable foods. It took me only about thirty minutes to read The Arrival, but I was brought to tears by the end. The main character’s homesickness and struggles to adopt represent the experiences of thousands of people around the world. This is truly a beautiful book, both in presentation and in content.
Laika was a stray dog picked up by the USSR’s rocket program in 1955 and launched into orbit two years later. She was the first living space traveler, and one of the most famous dogs in history. But poor little Laika had a difficult life, and her mission was a one-way adventure; the scientists provided no return flight for her, and she ended up dying far, far away from home. Many people were outraged that Laika had been sacrificed in the name of Science; and Miss Yelena, the woman who cared for her, was devastated.
To tell Laika’s story, author-illustrator Nick Abadzis has written this moving, well-researched graphic novel. It contains a ton of information about the Cold War “space race” between the USSR and the USA. Both countries desperately wanted to be the best, which is one reason Laika’s mission was scheduled before they had time to arrange for her return. I loved this book and recommend it to anyone interested in history, space exploration, illustration, or animals.