The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Walker Books)
HC RRP $27.99
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
This is a story about migration, told with compassion, deep thought and consideration. Author/illustrator Francesca Sanna, spoke to many migrants that escaped from war zones about their experiences, before deciding to create this book. These are all the stories in one, for they seem to be the same. Her voice speaks for all the voices that remain unheard.
It’s a story of loss: of the parts of their life before the war, sometimes of family members, belongings they leave behind and what they shed along the way, and of their homeland.
Here, a mother loses her husband to war. She is determined to find a safe place to rebuild a future for her children. To preserve their hope, she tells them it is an adventure. She hides her fear, but in the night when her children sleep, her emotions are released through silent tears.
There are walls to scale; visible and invisible ones. The endless roads they travel are danger traps. Then they must survive the stormy seas.
The illustrations are powerful and expressive. Dark and haunting, they depict the emotions the family experiences on their quest to reach a safe country to call home. These fears and emotions are portrayed by huge mouths, monsters, overpowering shapes and shades.
The strangeness of the future - the cities, forests and animal illustrations are magnified in size to represent the family’s imaginings. The tiny size of the people against the enormity of everything else, shows how diminished they are by their loss.
This is a stunning book. Its theme is uniquely represented by its illustrations which enhance and magnify the text. Sanna has achieved what she set out to do, and that’s to call attention to the plight of immigrants forced to take desperate measures to reach safety because of war.
This book is an ageless picture book for a more mature readership. Some younger children might find some of the illustrations scary. Adults must use their discretion.