Journey by Aaron Becker

Published by Walker (ISBN: 978-1406342307)

A lonely girl uses a magic red pencil to draw a door to another world. Her journey takes her to a different land where she faces adventure – and danger.

This is a picture book in the truest sense. From the very first page, the beautiful illustrations tell the story with no need for words. There is such detail that each spread deserves close scrutiny. The story leads you through a mix of emotions; the little girl cannot get the attention of her family and so looks for adventure through the magic red door she draws on her bedroom wall. There she rescues a captured bird and is rescued in turn. We are left with her finding a new friend and happily continuing her adventures.

There is so much that can be done with a book of this quality. The lack of words leaves children free to tell the story in their own way- individually, in pairs, in groups… They can draw on the details that appeal to them and elaborate on points that others might not. This can lead to extending their vocabulary, exploring synonyms, making choices. They can describe settings, develop the characters, write extra scenes, decide where the pencil will take her next… the possibilities are endless for drama activities, speaking and listening, reading and writing.

Cross curricular work can also be explored. The cityscape depicted in the book has echoes of Escher and could lead to looking at his work. The rights and wrongs of capturing wild animals and birds could be debated and researched. Issues of friendship, loneliness and family could be discussed. 

This is a real gem of a book!