Author/Illustrator: Aaron Becker
Age Group: 3-8
Synopsis: Using a red crayon to unlock her imagination, a young girl embarks on a creative journey that defies the known world.
The Low Down:
I loved Harold and the Purple Crayon as a child. Actually, I still enjoy it now. My favorite page will always be the pie page where Harold and his animal friends try a bite of every pie imaginable. Food aside, I wanted Harold’s purple crayon. Oh the things I could do, the places I could go. I suppose that’s why Journey spoke to me. It’s like Harold all grown up and with more extravagant illustrations. It’s a wordless story but Aaron Becker does an amazing job of allowing the reader to see just how the main character feels based on his color usage and detailed work.
The story follows a young girl who wants to do something! Anything! But her family are too preoccupied. The girl goes to her room and discovers a red crayon laying on the floor. She draws a door into another world and disappears into her own imagination. First she finds herself walking through a forest lit with blue lanterns and then stumbles upon a stream. She draws a boat and sails out of the forest to a city that makes Venice look like a backwater hole. Canals taking you up and through this high rising city are lovingly detailed and logically thought out and the friendly inhabitants are so welcoming that it’s all I could do not to encourage the main character to climb out of her boat and stay. She doesn’t and instead almost goes toppling over a waterfall. However, in true Harold form, she draws a hot air balloon and flies away. She goes on to discover ships in the air, that seem to have the sole purpose of catching and caging a beautiful purple bird. In her attempt to free the bird the young girl loses her crayon. With the bird free, the girl is placed in the cage instead and the crayon disposed of. It’s the bird that she saved that brings her, her salvation. With the crayon returned she flies away on a magic carpet and discovers a purple door, the same color as the bird. When she opens it, she’s back in her own world and confronted by a boy with a purple crayon, to whom the bird belongs. I was so excited upon getting to this point in the story, I’m not sure if this is meant to be Harold years later but I want it to be. The girl and Probably-Harold each draw part of a bicycle and ride away to find more adventure.
I can’t begin to say how much I enjoyed this book. How much I wanted a red crayon, a purple crayon, any color really. The illustrations are so well thought out, toeing that line between reality and all out fantasy. The message is clear as well. Even though this young girl travels to all these amazing places she doesn’t stay but instead returns to her own world. She’s not looking for a new home. She’s looking for a friend to ride a bicycle with and if it’s a bicycle of their own creation and imagining than all the better. This book does the amazing job of taking the reader through worlds of wonder and creativity and leaving them wondering what worlds that they could try and create with just a crayon.
- Keep an eye out for Harold in the introductory pages.
- Wordless stories are prime opportunities to let little ones stretch their story telling wings. Allowing them to deduce what’s going on from the illustrations and translate that to you is a great skill that will help develop their reading abilities.
I need more!
You are in luck. This is one of a trilogy. Journey is the first, followed by Quest and Return. There’s more information available on Aaron Becker’s website: http://www.storybreathing.com (Isn’t that the best name for a website?)
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