The Journey

Longlisted for the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award Picture Book Category

A family are forced to leave everything they know as the situation in their homeland becomes more and more dangerous. Told through the eyes of a young child, the book follows the family in their search for safety.

This is a powerful story, told simply and without sensationalism. The horror of loss and war is felt all the more keenly by the sparse text and powerful use of colour. Sinister shadows reach towards the family like threatening hands until the mother decides she and her children must leave.

The pictures show what the text does not- the pet they must leave behind, the difficulties of the journey they must make- until they reach the huge wall of the border. Once again, the illustrations offer a haunting glimpse of the fear and powerlessness felt by the family, but also of their love for each other. After all their trials, however, the story ends with a note of hope. Looking up, the child notices birds migrating overhead and hopes that, like the birds, they will find a new home where they can be safe and begin their story again.

Offering the perfect way into discussions about refugees and immigrants, this book is much needed and beautifully handled. Children can empathise with the feelings of fear, loss and uncertainty that leap off the pages, leading to understanding of the heart-breaking choice many have to make to leave their homes in the hope of safety. It is also a text that might help those who have been through a similar situation, but this ( as with everything!) would be for the teacher to decide based on the individual circumstances.

The story carefully encompasses the plight of many without specifying locations, allowing empathy with any and all situations. Beautifully told with evocative pictures, this is a story that should be shared with everyone. Simply stunning!

The Journey   Francesca Sanna

Flying Eye       ISBN: 978-1909263994