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The Arrival by Shaun Tan

y Robin Merrow MacCready

Publishing Information: Dutton Books: New York, 2006
ISBN: 9780525477242
: 224 p.
Ages: 13 & Up

Claudine obsesses over every detail of her life but, when her alcoholic mother disappears, Claudine begins to lose her struggle to maintain control.

Book Talk:
When you have problems, do you tell your friends at school? All your problems? The serious problems? People often keep their deepest, darkest troubles hidden. Some facts are just to hard to face.

Claude is a senior in high school. She is under a lot of stress. She just has to submit that scholarship application on time. She has to sit down and write the essay. She has to help her friend pass. Her mother, an alcoholic, has disappeared again, leaving the house a mess. Claude cleans and rearranges everything to impose order on the chaos of her life. She works and works and works, obsessively, compulsively. She uses hundreds of Post-it! Notes to help her remember all she must do. But, in spite of all her effort to maintain control, everything unravels because she keeps the very worst darkest truth buried, hidden deep within herself.

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Mental Illness
Mothers and Daughters
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Awards & Reviews:
Edgar Allen Poe Award, 2007
YALSA Best Books for Young Adult, 2008

Booklist, October 1, 2006, p. 49
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October 1, 2006
Horn Book, Spring 2007
Kirkus Reviews
, July 15, 2007
School Library Journal, November 1, 2006, p. 141

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. If you were in Claude’s place, becoming completely overwhelmed, would you tell someone? Whom would you tell? Why doesn’t Claude tell someone?
  2. Cleaning the house, Claude tries repeatedly to remove a stain that just won’t go away. What does it represent? What is it?
  3. How early in the book can a reader begin to sort things out and begin to suspect what the truth is? What clues does the author drop along the way?

Related Websites:
Author's Website:


Massachusetts General Hospital: Obsessive Compuslve Disorder:

TeensHealth: Coping with an Alcoholic Parent:

TeensHealth: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:

Children of Alcoholics
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Blood Relations by Chris Lynch, 1996
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Center Line by Joyce Sweeney, 1984
Cheat the Moon
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Dog Eat Dog by Chris Lynch, 1996
Down Came a Blackbird
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Far From Zanadu by ulie Anne Peters, 2005
Harris and Me: A Summer Remembered
by Gary Paulsen, 1993
Learning How to Fall
by Norma Klein, 1989
by Natasha Friend, 2006 (2006 RITBA Nominee and WInner)
Mick by Chris Lynch, 1996
The Moonlight Man
by Paula Fox, 1986
New Guys Around the Park
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Nowhere to Run
by Hilary Milton, 1978
Paradise Lane
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Pardon Me, You're Stepping on My Eyeball!
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Parent Swap
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Run, Shelley, Run!
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Runner by Carl Deuker, 2005 (2007 RITBA Nominee)
Speak to the Rain by Helen K. Passey, 1989
What Happened to Lani Garver
by Carol Plum-Ucci, 2002 (2004 RITBA Nominee)
The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance by Catherine Ryan Hyde, 2007

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Ball Don't Lie
by Matt de la Pena, 2005
by Laurie Halse Anderson, 2002 (2002 RITBA Nominee)
Kissing Doorknobs
by Terry Spencer Hesser, 1998
Not As Crazy As I Seem by George Harrer, 2003

About the Author:
Robin Merrow MacCready grewe up in a family that loved the creative arts and definitely enjoyed reading. While the house was often messy, a lot of the clutter was due to reading materials scattered all around.

Robin started writing when she was young. First she wrote short stories, but then progressed into "melodramatic sagas" when she was a teenager. She used daydreaming to practive her creativity.

She lives in Maine, where she lives with her husband, two boys, and her dog Roxy. She also teaches reading and writing to upper elementary school children.

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair