MSGL Book Reviews

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Children's Book Review: Journey by Aaron Becker

If you like to look at picture books even when your child is fast asleep, this book is for you! It has captivating detail and, because it has no words, it truly lets the reader tell the story.

Journey is the wordless picture story of a lonely city girl whose parents and sister are much too busy - two-thirds of them with electronic devices - to spend time with her one afternoon. She uses a mysterious red marker to draw herself into an adventure. If that sounds like the concept behind Harold and the Purple Crayon - it is. But that's where the similarities between the two stories end. Whereas Harold drew his way out of his house and then drew everything else around him, this story's heroine uses her red marker only to get from place to imaginary place. Those places are brought to luminous life by author/illustrator Aaron Becker's watercolor and pen and ink illustrations. 

The girl's simply-drawn red rowboat carries her through a forest and into a series of Escheresque canals in an ancient city. She narrowly averts disaster by drawing then hitching a ride in a hot air balloon that lifts her to another series of adventures. The girl's kindness and bravery literally open new imaginary doors for her that ultimately lead her to a new friendship - and what do you know? Her new friend lives just down the street from her house in the city. The two of them combine their imaginative powers to create a new adventure for themselves.

A child can look at this book for a long, long time. Children who like to figure out how things work will like it, especially. It's a book for thinkers. It's the kind of book that I would like to open up with a 4-year-old and say, "Oh my! What's happening here?" I love those kinds of stories.

Journey was published by Candlewick Press in August, 2013. It is 40 pages and available in hardcover. You can purchase it locally at Barnes & Noble and Von's Books. You can also buy it online at

For a real treat, check out Aaron Becker's sketchbook with illustrations from this story at Design Sponge.

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