Must-Read Picture Book of the Year: The Journey

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

War, death, despair, perseverance, hope… The weight of these topics is not easily communicated in a book for children, but The Journey by Francesca Sanna (public library) approaches these topics in a heartfelt story that couldn’t be published at a more appropriate time in the world today. I know “must-read book of the year” is a big claim to make, especially in September before the year’s end, but this is a special book. It is an important book. The Journey is about a refugee family, a family that is based on many true refugee family stories, and their adventure leaving their home and everything, for a life where they are safe and no longer living in fear. This family of a mother and her two children take a leap of faith in an escape to a new land, and they encounter many obstacles along the way, at times feel despair, yet persevere onward. While the story has a serious tone, the illustrations balance that seriousness with an element of magical realism. Watching woodland creatures, an evil giant, a friendly shadow– They’re characters that remind the reader this story is told from a child’s perspective.

The Journey Sanna

The Journey book by Francesca Sanna

The Journey picture book

The Journey book

The Journey

Not only is it an important work in children’s literature, but it’s an important story that needs to be read to people of all ages. Turn on the radio or television and the word “refugee” is bound to come up–The Journey is a way to explain and humanize this word for a young audience. It’s a label that applies to thousands of families we may only hear of on the news, families we may know in our community, and families who understand fully this poignant topic as they’ve experienced it or are currently experiencing a similar journey together. It’s a story that serves as both a mirror and a window into an epic adventure of strength and fortitude unlike any picture book you may ever read.




*A big thanks to the good folks at Flying Eye Books for providing a copy of this book for review!


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