17262290Journey by Aaron Becker. Ages 4 and up. Candlewick, 2013. 40 pages. Copy provided by my library.

This delightful wordless book is my favorite picture book of the year so far. Journey celebrates the power of the imagination with a Harold and the Purple Crayon story for our day. The book starts out with a watercolor/ pen and ink spread in various shades of dull brown. The notable exception is a brilliant red scooter leaning against a stoop near a contemplative, bored-looking girl. Barely noticeable during a first reading, you also see a boy near a mailbox with a  bright purple crayon and up in the sky, a small purple bird, far away. The cut-away house behind the girl reveals family members occupied with different technological devises, all to busy to play with the young girl, reminiscent of last year’s Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell.

The story moves on; in homage to Harold’s purple crayon, the girl sees a red crayon on her bedroom floor and draws a door on her bedroom wall. The door opens to reveal. . . a truly stunning landscape of color and light. Tall, tall green trees line a winding brooke and in the branches, strings of white party lights and whimsical blue lanterns glow. It’s about as breathtaking as you can get in a picture book illustration. And it only gets better from there. Our character draws herself a boat and follows the stream to the glistening city shown in the cover image, where she catches sight of a beautiful purple bird and follows it up to a steampunk style skyship. Every page is beautiful and full of details to be pored over again and again. Once you reach the pitch-perfect statisfying ending, all you want to do is turn back to the first page and read it all over again, searching for the smallest details you might have missed the first time.

I highly recommend this picture book and believe it can be enjoyed by readers of any age. There are many things to discuss as you read this wordless book aloud with a child. I love the joyful, quiet celebration of the power of imagination. This book certainly has my (fake) vote for this year’s Caldecott Award. Go check out Journey by Aaron Becker today!



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