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Middle-school librarians Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan prove that two heads are better than one when it comes to discussing YA and children's books

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013 12:00 pm
Journey by Aaron Becker
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

JourneyLynn:  Wordless books have a special place in my heart.  The teacher me loves the infinite uses for them and the librarian me loves the imaginative journeys that young readers can take through their pages and the grandparent me loves the silence that falls as the focus group concentrates on every detail.  Debut author/illustrator Aaron Becker brings something really special to all the me’s – and all other sorts of readers – with Journey (Candlewick 2013.)  This gorgeous book opens with brown-toned pages that peek inside the rooms of a city apartment.  A little girl tries to get someone from her busy family to play with her.  No one has time for her and boy did these sketches make me feel guilty!  Then the little girl notices a red crayon lying on the floor.  She picks it up, draws a door and sets off through it.  The wondrous page-turn reveals a mysterious green forest illuminated by strings of yellow glowing lights.  She finds a dock, draws a boat and sails off to a breath-taking castle bedecked with turrets, towers and domes.  Portals and drawbridges beckon and as the girl glides through the moat she sees a beautiful bird being pursued and captured.  Each beautiful page follows the girl’s rescue attempt and her reward back in her own world.

Each illustration begs for close inspection and is sure to inspire children to dream their own journeys of magic and adventure.

Cindy: Wordless? I’m almost speechless! Comparisons to Harold and the Purple Crayon are unavoidable, but, this book makes me wish I could draw a door and color myself an adventure. But you know what? As soon as I wrote that, I remembered that one of the subtle messages of this book is the idea that we do have the magic within us to find our own adventure, to make it happen, and to help others along the way. You can be bored or you can create your own fun. We all have a magic crayon…what are you going to draw today?

I don’t really want to say any more about the book because it is fun to make the page turns and discover it for yourself. After you’ve read it, you might want to hit Becker’s website. Among other things, you’ll find this video about the making of Journey.

I like Aaron’s tweet to attendees of #NCTE13: You all do the important work while we get to draw pictures all day! So thank you.


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