The Journey

illus. by Francesca Sanna. 48p. Flying Eye. Sept. 2016. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781909263994.
RedReviewStarGr 1–4—The crisp blend of realistic and fantastical illustrations in Sanna's debut picture book impart as much content and emotional depth as its carefully woven text narrated by an anonymous child. This title chronicles the unexpected, grueling migration of a family whose lives are forever changed by war. A contrasting palette with the startling use of black effectively depicts the father's death, the grasping hands of worry, and the fear, sadness, and exhaustion experienced during the arduous escape. Protagonists' pale faces and dark hair call to mind Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis, although the setting is not specific in terms of region or country. Readers follow the family with bated breath from the beginning end pages, which foreshadow the plot, and then as they travel by car, trucks, bicycle, foot, boat, and train. The narrator notes that "the farther we go…the more we leave behind." Simple words. Profound meaning. Books and storytelling provide a measure of emotional stamina for the family throughout their journey, and final end pages offer a small sense of hope for this unfinished tale.
VERDICT Based on a compilation of immigrant interviews, this selection is timely and beautiful, appropriate for use with young children given the continuing situation of refugees around the world made particularly visible in recent years.

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