This is a wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated story that captures the difficult and dangerous journeys that so many refugees have to make. It is almost impossible for most of us to imagine what it would be like to leave everything behind, not because we wanted to but because we had to. This is the consequence of war and war changes everything.
The Journey is told through the eyes of a young girl whose family is destroyed by war and explores the journey that she and her family endure in their search for a better life. After the father becomes a casualty of war, the mother decides it is time for her and her two children to flee in search of a safe place to call home. From sneaking away in the middle of the night to evading border guards, this is an accurate account of the many issues that refugees face.
The Journey is poignant and powerful and is an essential read for children growing up in today’s world. Sanna expertly balances the fear of the unknown with the hope of a better life and helps children understand why refugees make the dangerous journeys that they do. It is a read that provides the opportunity for deep and meaningful discussions and is superb for developing empathy towards refugees and helping build an understanding of their actions. What would it be like to leave everything behind? What would it be like trying to fit in in a new place? Is such a dangerous journey worth the risk? Should refugees be able to choose which country they flee to? How terrified do you think refugees must be to decide to leave their home and everything they have ever known behind?
The illustrations are dark and striking. The dangers are portrayed as big and threatening and you completely feel what a mountain of a challenge the family faces to escape. No matter the dangers though, the mother’s love for her children and how she is willing to do everything to keep them safe and provide a better life for them shines through. My favourite illustration was the flock of birds that the family gaze up at. The contrast between the barriers the family have in their journey with the birds who are free to travel wherever they want is heartbreaking.
An essential read from an incredibly talented writer and illustrator. A book suitable for any age but is better suited to older children who would really be able to explore the complexities of the story and the issues it raises.
Recommended for 9+.