Journey by Aaron Becker
        Publisher: Candlewick
        Published: August 6, 2013
        Source/Format: Purchased | Hardcover

         All journeys begin with the first step, leap, or in the case of Journey by Aaron Becker, open door – the moment when we allow ourselves to disregard fear or doubt and experience a true adventure.  Journey takes us on such a voyage, led by a little girl with dreams of larger than life worlds and friendships, something lacking in her small and lonely town.   The allure and real magic of Journey, however, is that it is wordless.  The audience creates the story, looking deep into the illustrations to find the emotion and tale that is presented there.  It is a journey in every sense of the word – including through our own imaginations.

         Journey opens with an illustration of a little girl sitting on the front steps of her house, looking sad and dejected.  She is alone, and there are a few children nearby, but nobody seems to notice her – not even her family members.  From the very first page, we feel this character’s need to escape.  She longs to find a world that not only frees her from her sense of isolation, but that she is free to make her own.  When she discovers a red crayon on her bedroom floor, the little girl draws a red door on her wall, and the journey begins.  We are taken over the river and through the woods to a new and daunting city, a place that hints at both danger and delight.  As the little girl creates each scene with her red crayon, our imaginations are free to wonder and wander.  We sail in a boat down the river, take refuge in a giant hot air balloon, and soar through the night on magic carpets, realizing and relishing in the endlessness of possibility.  Along the way, the little girl forges new bonds and friendships,  – most significantly with a purple bird that leads her through the sky.   She also battles an evil emperor, rescuing her new friend and saving the day. With each scene, the girl’s loneliness seems to dissipate as she becomes ready to return to the normalcy of her life.  And when she does, she is greeted by a friend – a little boy who, like her, wanted to create a new world and in doing so, drew the bird that became her solace.  Her journey comes to an end, but as she and her new friend close the door, a new one is set to begin.

         Journey is a story of adventure and friendship, told entirely through art and the scope of our own imagination.  It is a story that proves that even the most seemingly ordinary lives have the power to become more than you ever dreamed.

                                          Using our imagination…

“I think the story takes place in Paris and she is sitting on the steps alone because she is happy-sad.  Happy-sad is when you feel like you should be happy, but you’re sad.” –Jordan, age 4

“The door is going to take her to the Magic Kingdom.  Maybe she’ll find some animals and they can be her friends so she won’t be lonely anymore.  Or she’ll go swimming.” –Emmet, age 5

“See what she is drawing with the red crayon?  It’s a rope!” –Ciara, age 3

“She is going to save the bird from the suits of armor, because the bird is her friend.” –Leah, age 3

Maybe the story takes place in Italy!  No, maybe not.  It’s too cloudy.” –Charlie, age 4

“That little boy is going to be her friend now!  Look, they used their crayons to make a bike!  But they aren’t wearing helmets, and you’re supposed to wear your helmet.”  –Liv, age 3

Posted in