Antonia: A Journey to a New Home

minedition. Sept. 2021. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781662650451.
PreS-Gr 2–In a nearly wordless book, a family migrates to a new place and on the way, a child loses her beloved pet dog. In fact, the dog’s name, Antonia, is the only text that appears in the story. A brief author’s note at the beginning provides some context for the family’s forced migration, and indicates that the ending is intended to be hopeful, but it’s difficult to identify any optimism here. The ending is abrupt and unsettling, with the girl gazing sadly back to where her dog was lost while the rest of the traveling party looks forward. The palette of the stylized watercolor illustrations shifts from yellows to blues in the last two pages, reinforcing the despondent mood. This stark picture book doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges of forced migration: it is sad, with no sense of resolution. This straightforward approach can launch important conversations between adults and children about the circumstances in which a family might have to move, and the immense difficulties that can ensue. Whether beneficial as bibliotherapy for readers who have gone through similarly tumultuous situations, or as a way to build empathy for the hardships others have endured, this book may not find easily find its audience. The distressing ending and lack of explanatory detail make it unlikely as a first choice for introducing children to the concept of forced migration.
VERDICT Therapeutic and thought-provoking for some young readers, possibly disturbing for others; purchase where migrant and refugee stories are in high demand.

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