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‘Journey’ by Aaron Becker (REVIEW)

Journey by Aaron Becker

A magic door drawn by a lonely girl leads to a fantastic adventure in JOURNEY by author-illustrator Aaron Becker. Reminiscent of “Harold and the Purple Crayon”, a girl uses a red marker to carry her along on an adventure where she draws whatever mode of transportation she needs to continue her journey.

I hesitate to call JOURNEY a picture book. Or else, it is a true picture book and all others need to be reclassified. As I opened to the first page, I was mesmerized. I became lost in the intricate details. I found cross-sections of streets, houses and flying ships, and one magnificent castle drawn from different perspectives. I saw bricks laid upon bricks, underground sewer systems, tree bark in a forest of trees, a family at work and play inside their home, and a girl outside with her red scooter. Color is important in JOURNEY. As the story goes, the girl retreats to her bedroom because she can’t find anyone to play with her. When the girl’s cat awakens and walks out of the room, she discovers a red marker on the ground where the cat had slept. Perhaps on a whim, she draws a red door. Now her magical adventure begins.

I took JOURNEY to a colleague to share my discovery. He too became lost in the artwork and how it told the little girl’s story. It wasn’t until that moment, in sharing JOURNEY with him, that I realized that JOURNEY is a wordless book. My realization stunned me. I had fallen into this book three days earlier captured by the sounds of the city streets, the rushing water at the castle, the wind from the turbines on the flying machines and the voices of the ruler’s men in pursuit of both the bird and the girl. I was swept along with her as she traversed a forest of twinkling lights, floated in a red boat down the river, through a lock system at the castle, and over the edge of the accidental waterfall. JOURNEY was a multidirectional read for me. Something on one page triggered a memory of something on an earlier page so back and forth I went. It was wonderful! Make note of the use of color. During the girl’s adventure she finds something of color that another person had lost. This literally opens a new door of opportunity for her. Oh. By the way, I saw a boy with a purple marker. Maybe it was Harold.

Goodreads | Amazon | Author website

A 2014 Caldecott Honor Book 

From the Publisher:

Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

Praise for JOURNEY:

A masterwork.
—The New York Times

Star for Review An imaginative adventure story whose elaborate illustrations inspire wonder, careful examination and multiple reads. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Star for ReviewWonder mixes with longing as the myriad possibilities offered by Becker’s stunning settings dwarf what actually happens in the story. Readers will be both dazzled and spurred on imagined travels of their own. —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Star for Review [An] auspicious debut… [a] captivating wordless story… The strong visual narrative makes this an appealing choice for a wide range of ages. By the turn of the last page, children will immediately begin imagining the next adventure. —School Library Journal (starred review)

Star for ReviewReverberate(s) with the power of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are —Booklist (starred review)

Product details:

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763660536

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