Continuing the theme of fleeing from war, today’s book is one that has been endorsed by Amnesty International: The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye Books). While Sanna grew up in Italy, I believe this book was originally produced in English.
Emma: I like all the birds at the end. I wouldn’t like to do a journey like that.
As the author explains, this isn’t a book about a specific journey and, as such, the reader isn’t told where the family are fleeing from and where they are going to. The book is written in the first person from the child’s perspective. One particularly heart-wrenching page is nearly all black with the words: And one day the war took my father. The mother is left alone with her children and takes the decision to leave the country with her two children.
As a mother, this much be such a difficult decision to make, to be responsible for two other little beings on such a journey. The inner strength of the mother really comes through. On one page we see the mother holding her awake children to her and the colours around her include splashes of oranges and yellows and greens. On the opposite page we see the same image but the children are asleep and only now does the mother release her tears, the colours now muted blues and darker greens. I love how the tears form part of the the mother’s hair.
As the family progress on their journey, we see all the different ways they travel: in their own car, in the back of a van, in a lorry squashed among vegetables, on a bike, on foot, by boat and finally by train. We feel the despair and the fear along the way, as they hide in bushes trying not to attract attention to themselves. We leave the family on a train, crossing many borders. As they look out the window, they see birds flying, migrating “just like us”. The books closes saying: I hope, one day, like these birds, we will find a new hope. A home where we can be safe and begin our story again. Powerful words from a powerful book.
The illustrations in this book are just stunning and there is such detail, cleverly weaving dangerous looking eyes and fingers into the background. Emma was very drawn to the little fox in the woods. The colours are glorious and this is another book where the printing and paper quality feel give this book a fantastic feel.