Best Books of the Month, August 2013: The influence
of Harold and the Purple Crayon is unmistakable, but rather than
a cheap imitation, Journey is a beautiful homage to the classic.
Aaron Becker’s balance of color and immaculately detailed
illustrations capture the eye and effortlessly tell the story of
a lonely girl who uses a red crayon to draw her way into a
magical adventure. As the journey comes full circle, a purple
bird--the work of another imagination--leads the way to the best
adventure of all: friendship. Journey is an incredible work of
storytelling through art that will appeal to readers of all ages.
From School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-In this auspicious debut picture book, a
lonely girl escapes the boredom of a sepia-toned world by drawing
a doorway to a magical realm. Harkening back to Crockett
Johnson's Harold, this child uses a red crayon and a lot of
imagination to venture across a Venice-like kingdom, fly among a
fleet of steampunk airships, and take off on a magic carpet ride.
When an act of compassion and bravery lands the heroine in a
cage, it's her magic crayon and a bit of help from a new friend
that save the day. This captivating wordless story has all the
elements of a classic adventure: unknown lands, death-defying
stunts, and a plucky lead. Finely detailed pen-and-ink line
drawings combine with luminous washes of watercolor to create a
rich and enchanting setting. Becker builds a sense of suspense by
varying colorful full-page spreads with smaller vignettes that
feature the girl and her red crayon surrounded by ample white
space. The final page shows the youngster and her new friend
riding a tandem bicycle pointing onward. Endpapers spotlight all
manner of transportation: ships, trains, cars, and even space
shuttles. The strong visual narrative makes this an appealing
choice for a wide range of ages. By the turn of the last page,
children will immediately begin imagining the next
adventure.-Kiera Parrott, Darien Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2013.
Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source,
Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist ( /gp/feature.html/?docId=1000027801 )
*Starred Review* First-time author Becker sweeps
readers away on the very best kind of journey, allowing a complex
color scheme, intricate fantasy environments, and a stirring
sense of adventure to tell the story without a single word. Worn
out by an urban world of washed-out colors and too-busy adults, a
young girl makes her escape through a slightly foreboding
mystical forest and floats into a city-sized castle, where she
spies a magnificent bird that is captured and caged. Without
hesitation, she takes on an army of Samurai-like air-warlords and
saves the bird, who ushers her back into her own world, where
friendship and great new adventure await. Becker’s background in
movie animation is apparent in his sense of pace, motion, and
action; his extraordinary detail work; and his sharp visual cues:
objects of imagination and escape, for example, are all colored
in blazing red. But through elements that reverberate with the
power of Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955),
Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (1963), and Barbara
Lehman’s The Red Book (2004), he clearly has a deep understanding
of his literary antecedents, too. Laudable for its adventuresome
female protagonist, scope, and sense of fun, this title will draw
girls and boys back to it again and again. Grades 1-4. --Jesse
—The New York Times
An imaginative adventure story whose elaborate illustrations
inspire wonder, careful examination and multiple reads.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Wonder mixes with longing as the myriad possibilities offered by
Becker’s stunning settings dwarf what actually happens in the
story. Readers will be both dazzled and spurred on imagined
travels of their own.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[An] auspicious debut... [a] captivating wordless story... The
strong visual narrative makes this an appealing choice for a wide
range of ages. By the turn of the last page, children will
immediately begin imagining the next adventure.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
First-time author Becker sweeps readers away on the very best
kind of journey, allowing a complex color scheme, intricate
fantasy environments, and a stirring sense of adventure to tell
the story without a single word. ... Laudable for its
adventuresome female protagonist, scope, and sense of fun, this
title will draw girls and boys back to it again and again.
—Booklist (starred review)
There is much to pore over in the watercolor and pen-and-ink
illustrations, and when the boy and girl ride off together at the
end on a tandem bicycle with one red wheel and one purple wheel,
readers will want to follow them.
—The Horn Book
This is a wordless picture book that will be transcendent for
readers and appeal to a wide variety of children. ... This is a
beautiful tale that will visually delight for years to come.
—Library Media Connection (highly recommended)
We live in a time with a lot of flash and beep and tweets. Mr.
Becker has made a beautiful reminder that there are times we need
to turn it off. Sometimes we need a book, some quiet, and our
imagination. It's so well done.
—Erin Stead, 2011 Caldecott Medal Winner for A Sick Day for Amos
I fell into this breathtaking adventure and didn't want to leave.
This is a book of extraordinary magic and beauty.
—Julie “Jules” Danielson, Seven Impossible Things Before
[A] gorgeously illustrated, imaginative take on the wordless
picture book... It’s a true feast for both the mind and eye!
—Favorite Things (FamilyFun blog)
Dreamlike... Like Harold and his purple crayon before her, the
child discovers that she can use a crayon to make an imaginative
escape — and what an escape it is! ... Dazzling.
—The Wall Street Journal
[A] wordless tour de force... Completely original. ... Becker's
breathtaking urban and bucolic scenes map out a visual narrative
that reflects the girl's journey—both external and internal. ...
Here's hoping there's more to come from this talented newcomer.
—Shelf Awareness for Readers (starred review)
Talk about making your own adventure! ... [E]xtraordinary
kindness and a couple of crayons produce an ending so original
and satisfying you can’t but shake your head and smile. This
gorgeous, wordless book is a gem.
[A]n absolutely magical tale... Becker's picture book is one of
the finest get-lost-in-your-own-imagination tales of loneliness,
escape, adventure, and, ultimately, new friendship that I've read
in quite some time.
—USA Today Online
Becker launches readers into a wordless adventure amid exotic
lands and narrow escapes—thanks to the bright red marker-wielding
heroine. Think Crockett Johnston’s ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’
crossed with Neil Gaiman’s ‘Stardust.’ A lonely girl steps from
her black-and-white world into a vast, colorful journey. Some
stories, including this one, don’t need words to fire the
—The Boston Globe
With its fine attention to detail and jaw-dropping storyline,
Becker has created a modern day classic in the midst of an
overpopulated genre. ... I don’t get to use this word very often
when I’m talking about books for young children but I’m going to
dust it off and use it now: Beautiful. There’s no other way to
—Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production (SLJ Blog)
This absolutely gorgeous wordless picture book is a testament to
the skill of author/illustrator Aaron Becker. As Journey ends,
you'll want to immediately return to the beginning to experience
A lonely girl takes her red crayon, draws a door on her bedroom
wall and walks into a world of steampunk flying machines and
turreted canal cities. She navigates this fantasy realm via boat,
balloon and flying carpet, all drawn with her crayon. Journey is
a clear nod to Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon,
but this version doesn't have words; instead Aaron Becker tells
his story through meticulous watercolor and pen-and-ink
—NPR Monkey See
Becker's wordless masterpiece is both timely and timeless,
drawing inspiration from the classic "Harold and the Purple
Crayon" to draw the reader into an entirely new and
—The Huffington Post
Worldless picture books are nothing new, but it takes a special
touch to create one that appeals to both pre-readers (have them
"narrate" their own story to you as you leaf through) and older
students who can appreciate the layers of silent storytelling.
'Journey' accomplishes this feat and just might be the perfect
title for one last summer roadtrip ... Film illustrator Aaron
Becker's creation is at once simple and nuanced, a beautifully
tactile version of the best Pixar shorts.
With this wordless tour de force, Aaron Becker gives a nod to the
likes of Crockett Johnson and Shaun Tan—but in a completely
original work. … Becker's breathtaking urban and bucolic scenes
map out a visual narrative that reflects the girl's journey—both
external and internal. By the conclusion, readers see that all
she needs is a likeminded friend. Here's hoping there's more to
come from this talented newcomer.
—Twenty by Jenny
About the Author
Aaron Becker has worked as an artist in the film and
animation industry, where he helped define the look and feel of
characters, stories, and the movies they become a part of.
With Journey, he has created characters and worlds of his very
own, using traditional materials and techniques. Aaron Becker
lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with his wife, daughter, and
cat. This is his first book.