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March 22, 2017

Journey

by Anne Paddock

A picture is worth a thousand words.

People often talk about the power of words but consider for a moment the power of pictures. The well-known saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is easily understood when we think of the Mona Lisa or American Gothic but the meaning takes on a whole new dimension when applied to a children’s picture book called Journey by Aaron Becker, a man who has been known to say his favorite destination remains in his imagination.

Published in 2013, Journey is the story of a little girl who lives with her busy, preoccupied parents in the city. It’s not that the parents are the bad guys; they are simply busy parents working, cooking, or on their computers trying to take care of the things that adults are supposed to take care of. Except that these diversions leave little time for their daughter who is lonely. She retreats to her room and begins her journey by taking a red marker and drawing a door on her bedroom wall which opens up to a world in which adventure, fascination, and danger collide.Journey

Without a single word, the reader watches as the little girl uses the red marker to create a boat and a balloon as she embarks on a journey that brings her to an uncertain destiny. As she flies through the sky, she sees a bird soaring through the clouds but when the bird is caught and caged by a cruel emperor, the little girl must decide whether to continue her journey or help the bird which is so often a metaphor in our own lives when we are faced with a tough decision:  do we move forward or adjust our journey to do the right thing?

A Caldecott Honor Book, Journey takes the reader back to childhood when we relied on our imagination every single day. There are stories that captured imagination in words – Charlie’s visit to the Wonka factory where rivers of creamy, warm chocolate transport boats through the factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James’ trip through the sky inside a giant juicy peach in James and the Giant Peach,  Milo’s journey in his toy car through the tollbooth in The Phantom Tollbooth, and Dorothy’s trip to the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz – but there are also stories of imagination that require no words and that is what Journey is. With beautifully illustrated brightly colored illustrations, Journey tells the story of where a little girl’s imagination can take her and that’s a powerful thing.

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