Saturday, March 22, 2014


Becker, Aaron. Journey. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2013. Print. 
ISBN:  0763660531
Audience: Ages 4-8, Grade PK-3

Summary: In this wordless picture book, a young girl tries to get her busy family to interact with her. The beginning spreads are dull with a almost colorless palette, broken only by a few touches of color created by the girl’s red crayon. When she fails, she uses her crayon to draw a door on her bedroom wall and goes through it into another magical world. The palette turns green and blue and the pages explode with light. Everything the girl draws magically becomes solid, and she explores the new world with the help of the transportation (boat, balloon, carpet, bicycle) that she creates. When an evil king captures her, a mysterious purple bird appears, and she follows it to a satisfying escape and solution to her loneliness.

Strengths: This wildly creative book would encourage any child to use their imagination – I think they would immediately be drawn into dreaming up new adventures for the main character. The wonderfully illustrated book is a feast for the eyes. The spreads are gorgeous and full of detail that made me want to stare at it for hours. That Becker was able to create such detailed illustrations with pen and ink and watercolor is truly amazing.

Weaknesses: At times, students can be frustrated by wordless books and feel that they are too “babyish.” They are a hard sell to teachers, as well, who often don’t know how to effectively use a book that they can’t use as a traditional read aloud.

Uses: A wordless book can be used to develop students’ ability to notice key details (Common Core State Standard ELA:RL.1 Grades K-3) by discussing what they see as they “read” the story and then transferring these details to writing their own narratives (CCSS ELA:W.3 Grades K-4). It also is a perfect venue for retelling of a story (CCSS ELA: RL.2 Grades K-2) and identifying literary structure (CCSS ELA: RL.5 Grades 2-5). An Art teacher could also use this book to discuss technique and color palette. Themes (CCSS ELA: RL.2 Grades K-6) include loneliness, adventure, and creativity. Finally, this book would be a great one to put in the hands of an ESL student or a reluctant reader who could understand the story.

·      Harold & the Purple Crayon - Crockett Johnson (The classic story of a boy who uses a purple crayon to draw things that come to life.)
·      Castle- David Macaulay (Intricate illustrations of castles)
·      hello! hello! – Matthew Cordell (The family is too busy to spend time with their daughter because of their digital devices.)
·      Blackout- John Rocco (The family is too busy to spend time together until a blackout hits the city.)
·      The Red Balloon   - (The classic Academy Award winning 1956 film of a boy who follows a red balloon through Paris.)

Caldecott Honor
Amazon Best Books
NYT Best Illustrated
Junior Library Guild

Other:  Starred reviews in Kirkus, Booklist, School Library Journal,  & Publisher’s Weekly, featured on Calling Caldecott

Resources for Librarians & Teachers:
Book Trailer:

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