means of transport


30 DAYS OF PB 2013 aDay Eighteen: Journey by Aaron Becker

Candlewick Press, 2013.

lot of notice has been taken of this picture book, so naturally I was skeptical. I discovered that perhaps, this time, there is something to all the brouhaha. Journey really is brilliant–not groundbreaking brilliant, but just story-telling goodness sort of brilliant, which is not the easiest thing to accomplish either.

journey becker header

When the young girl of Aaron Becker’s picture book draws a door on her wall, she does not encounter the pale man whose eyes are in his hands. No, Journey is an enchanting tale of another sort.

The opening scenes are all too familiar. The protagonist sits on the stoop while other children are at play. Family members are preoccupied in a pretty sectioning of an apartment.  The young girl will try to engage said family members in play, only to fail and end up alone in her room despairing. This is real life and many children know it.

She finds a marker–and draws on the wall. Be prepared to find drawn doorways on walls.

journey-articleLargeOn the other side of the door is color and wonder. Becker not only has her go through a door, but she is first in a forest, which, in fairytale tradition, is perfectly suited for magical occurrence. The girl moves from one transporting object to the next, ascending as the story progresses. At first she surrenders to the adventure, but is inspired to action even as her confidence in what she is able to do grows. The boredom demonstrated earlier long since disappears by the end of the book/journey; as does her loneliness. She finds kindred spirits and leaves you imagining what kind of fantastic adventure she will be off to next. You realize, of course, that you have been invited to imagine alongside her from the very beginning of this textless narrative.

Becker uses expanse to focus sequences. And he uses the space resulting from his wide-angled shots to not only make the girl small in her situation and isolated in a room in a frame, but you get that all-important sense of great distances. Our hero is about to set out on a journey.


You’ll notice the light shifting into a nighttime, giving you a course of a day, and that the girl is fairly texture-less, certainly without personality cues, unless the white tee and dull brown shorts suggest something I can no longer believe by the book’s end. Her surroundings (including other characters) are richer in detail than she. She is somewhat left to our imaginations, as well.

The set(ting)s are astonishing. I love the section work, and the airships, especially. You could spend quite a while narrating her adventure, and burn through sheets of paper for your own. Or go outside and take another look at the world you are in. There is a nice detail the the opening scene that comes back around for the ending, that encourages this sort of action. Too, where is the girl when she is off and literally pointing toward her next adventure?

journey coverJourney has this strange effect of bidding the reader to recline and dream, open that little door in mind and step through, while at the same time highly recommending that the reader open a door to the real outside and experience something new, and/or actively play out-of-doors your fantastical scenarios. However one can and will, Journey will inspire you to transport yourself in one healthy way or another–the first being in his book, with his delightful young heroine.

Journey book trailer

{images belong to Aaron Becker}

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Gail says:

    On my wishlist. Lali is obsessed with magic carpets.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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