The Journey


A new heroine to win readers' hearts, joining the ranks of Lydia Grace Finch and Elizabeth Brown.

Beginning in the dark hours of morning, an Amish girl, along with two adult companions, sets off for the big city for the first time. The reader receives nightly reports through young Hannah's diary, in which, with tireless awe, she relates the significant events of the day. Each experience is decidedly new to Hannah — a trip to the top of a skyscraper, a visit to the aquarium — yet...

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A new heroine to win readers' hearts, joining the ranks of Lydia Grace Finch and Elizabeth Brown.

Beginning in the dark hours of morning, an Amish girl, along with two adult companions, sets off for the big city for the first time. The reader receives nightly reports through young Hannah's diary, in which, with tireless awe, she relates the significant events of the day. Each experience is decidedly new to Hannah — a trip to the top of a skyscraper, a visit to the aquarium — yet in each she finds some universal element that reminds her of home. Though she loves the city, a trip to the art museum on the final day of her visit clinches Hannah's longing for family and familiarity; fortunately, the bus is ready to take her back to the place she loves most.

Sarah Stewart's text has the authentic ring of a smart girl's private thoughts, and David Small's pictures are magnificent.

Sarah Stewart and David Small collaborated on three previous books: Money Tree, The Library, and The Gardener, which was a Caldecott Honor Book. They are married and live in Michigan.

A young Amish girl tells her "silent friend," her diary, about all the wonderous experiences she has on her first trip to a city, Chicago.

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Editorial Reviews

Karen Carden
Not all travel requires airplanes. In the case of A Journey, by wife-and-husband team Sarah Stewart and David Small, the trip is accomplished by a horse and buggy and a bus. Hannah, a young Amish girl, boards a bus to Chicago for her very first visit. She records her thoughts and experiences in a diary - her silent friend - and these entries become the text of the story. Stewart's tale captures Hannah's awe of and interest in the big city, and at the same time chronicles her longing for home. Small's loose ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict each day's busy activities, but every one of these pages is followed by a large, wordless double-page spread of Hannah's farm life. The visual pacing is superb, and it creates an affectionate balance between exciting travel and a comforting home.
The Christian Science Monitor
Publishers Weekly
An Amish girl visits the big city for the first time and recounts the day's activities, comparing them to life back home. In a starred review, PW said, "Readers will feel as though they have made a fast friend in this likable young heroine." Ages 5-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
HAn Amish girl makes her first visit to a city (Chicago, in this case) in another graceful and understated work by the collaborators of the Caldecott Honor book, The Gardener. In daily entries, Hannah addresses her diary as "my silent friend," as she excitedly recounts the day's activities and compares them to life back home. Each reference inspires the illustration that appears on the succeeding wordless spread --a scene from her rural hometown. Like her heroine, Stewart wastes no words; a simplicity and economy inform the prose. Small effectively depicts the spare, serene Amish lifestyle and, using a more subdued palette and a simpler line than in his previous work, effectively underscores the sharp contrast between the two settings. In one particularly engaging juxtaposition, Hannah describes a visit to a store. "I was staring at some strange dresses when a saleswoman suddenly held one up to my shoulders," she writes, then wonders if, at home, her Aunt Clara has finished stitching Hannah's dress. The accompanying illustration shows a store clerk holding up a red and white polka-dot party dress in a glittering shop dominated by elegantly clad mannequins. A turn of the page reveals Hannah's recollection of standing barefoot in her aunt's stark sewing room, holding up a simple blue shift. Another strong visual segue concludes this exceptional title and brings home its themes: On her final day in the city, Hannah gazes at one of Monet's paintings of haystacks in a museum and admits in her journal "how much I've missed [Aunt Clara] and my pony and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa and my sisters and brothers." Strong likenesses of the haystacks appear on the following spread, as the bus carrying Hannah and her mother home passes by a dusk-shrouded field. (Observant youngsters may notice that in Small's aerial view of the family's home and barn, found on the endpapers, these two buildings bear a resemblance to those in the background of Monet's painting.) As affecting as the book's graphics, Hannah's candid journal entries, filled with a wide-eyed wonder of the city, spill over with a contagious enthusiasm ("I feel like happiness has rushed up and grabbed me from behind"). Her trip to the city only seems to deepen her appreciation for her family's way of life. Readers will feel as though they have made a fast friend in this likable young heroine. They will not easily forget her. All ages. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Young Hannah has never been "higher than Aunt Clara's porch, or farther than Yoder's General Store" in the Amish countryside. But her aunt has given her the chance to go with her mother to spend a week in Chicago. A greater contrast can hardly be imagined than that between her quiet life on the farm and the hectic pace of the city. Each night, Hannah briefly summarizes for her "silent friend," her diary, the excitement and adventure of the day, without omitting a thought for what is happening back home. The double-page illustration accompanying each diary page is alive with the action observed by our modestly garbed trio, along with a black line sketch of Hannah herself writing in the diary. On the following double page spread, textless, is an image of the related activity back on the farm. The view of the city atop "one of the tallest buildings," the fancy shops, a ride around the park in a horse and buggy after a daring rescue, the aquarium, and a cathedral, all delight her while provoking Hannah's thoughts. A painting in the museum even moves her to tears. But her thoughts return always loving to home. She wants to get a special gift for Aunt Clara but decided that "maybe the best gift to bring back home is just myself." Small begins the visual narrative on the jacket, depicting a starry night with a lantern illuminating the loading of a wagon. The front end-papers show a more distant view of the wagon leaving the farm. The title page continues the journey down a tree-lined path, to a textless double page of dawn breaking at the boarding of the Chicago-bound bus. The copyright and other information is displayed like a poster on a brick wall in the double-page, textless scene of thewomen entering a hotel beneath Chicago's elevated subway train tracks. Finally, we are ready for Hannah's diary entries. The loosely painted scenes fill the large double pages with the tourist sites made special by the inclusion of the three black-bonneted women. Small's color helps evoke the excitement of splashing fountains and the spirituality of "a great cathedral." The alternating scenes are, by contrast, less impressive but more intimate in their color and their depiction of friends and family engaged back home in the life to which Hannah will return. Her tears recalling the haystacks hint of her desire to go home. The final end-papers are both a reprise of the front and a reinforcement of her feelings as a crowd welcomes the returning travelers home. The story, textually simple but visually rich, stands on its own, but it can also provoke discussion on the Amish ways, contrasting our with their life styles and choices. 2001, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 40 pages,
— Ken and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature
Hannah, a young Amish girl, tells the story of her first trip to the big city from her family farm through innocent, excited nightly entries in her diary. Her wide-eyed impressions of Chicago through Stewart's words are beautifully augmented by Small's illustrated comments—a worldly department store juxtaposed with the simple sewing room back on the farm; the wonders of the aquarium set against real community fishing; and, most artfully, Monet's haystacks exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute compared with real haystacks on Amish fields. The husband and wife team have achieved perfect rapport in this story. Sarah Stewart's commentary catches young Hannah's enthusiasm over the wider world while keeping the girl perfectly content with her own life. Meanwhile, David Small just keeps getting better and better. His Chicago views have the wit of Hilary Knight's work for Eloise, while his Amish images are filled with the warmth of home. The result is a lovely book. 2001, Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.00. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Sarah Stewart's thought-provoking picture book (Farrar, 2001) is well-treated in this book/tape combination. Hannah is a young Amish girl on her first visit to the big city-Chicago. The story is told in diary entries that chronicle her great adventure with illustrations showing city life. These alternate with untexted double-page spreads of the simple Amish life that continues while Hannah is away. The female narrator, Daisy Egan, reads the diary entries in an expressive, girlish voice that aptly suits the main character. Background music enhances the production and, on the untexted pages, provides mood music as readers are given time to scan David Small's exquisite illustrations. This is a touching, evocative story that talks of venturing forth into new worlds and discovering new things, while recognizing the heart-held worth of home and heritage.-Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Child Magazine
A Child Magazine Best Book of 2001 Pick

"I'm finally in a big city! And more, I've escaped the farm and chores!" writes a young Amish girl in her diary during a trip to Chicago. Lyrical watercolors and Hannah's awestruck musings contrast the wonder and excitement of bustling city life with the simple pleasures of her pastoral Amish community. In the end, however, she discovers the old adage proves true: There's no place like home.

From the Publisher
"An Amish girl makes her first visit to a city . . . in another graceful and understated work by the collaborators of the Caldecott Honor book, The Gardener . . . Spills(s) over with a contagious enthusiasm." —Starred, Boxed, Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374400101
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 8/8/2006
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 725,911
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.09 (w) x 11.73 (h) x 0.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Stewart and David Small, a Caldecott medalist, have collaborated on five books to date, including The Library and The Gardener, a Caldecott Honor Book. They live in Mendon, Michigan.

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Read an Excerpt


Dear Diary

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion/Activities for The Journey

How does the artwork on the end pages at the

beginning of the book, the title page, and the

first double-page spread indicate that the

characters are embarking on a journey?

Discuss how the end pages in the back of the

book reveal the end of the journey.

What is the difference between a journey and

a trip? Discuss how Hannah’s trip to Chicago

becomes a personal journey. What does she

learn from her journey?

Discuss why Hannah calls her diary her “silent

friend.” Write a diary entry that Hannah might

write on the night she returns home.

The Amish people lead very simple lives, and

most don’t have modern conveniences.

Discuss how David Small uses color and wordless double-page spreads to illustrate the

contrast between the rural, simple life of the

Amish and the busy, bustling life of city


Explain what Hannah means when she states

in her Wednesday diary entry, “Going down the

street is like making a journey across the

whole world.”

Note the painting that Hannah is viewing in

the art museum. Why is she drawn to this

particular work? Encourage students to take

a virtual trip to the Art Institute of Chicago

( and see other paintings that

Hannah might see while visiting the museum.

Hannah writes poems in her diary and plans to

give Aunt Clara her two favorite poems. Think

about what Hannah has seen and what she

feels and misses about home. Write and

illustrate the two poems that Hannah gives

to Aunt Clara.

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