Becker develops concepts for film studios, and his wordless picture book debut reads like a cinematic tribute to Harold and the Purple Crayon. Drab sepia drawings introduce a lonely girl whose afternoon is jolted into life (and full color) when she uses a piece of red chalk to draw a door on her wall, walking through it into a lantern-lit forest with a winding river. Drawing a red boat, she drifts toward a breathtaking castle city whose gleaming turrets and domes promise adventure and intrigue. Yet she does not linger—she draws a hot-air balloon, takes to the air, and encounters a squadron of magnificent, steampunk-style airships manned by soldiers who have trapped a phoenix-like bird. Her release of the bird earns the ire of the airmen, the bird in turn rescues her, and a clever resolution leads the girl to a friend with his own magic chalk. 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. Ages 4–8. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Aug.)
—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 McGee
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 Breakfast
[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 imagination.
—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 describe Journey.
—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 it again.
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 illustrations.
—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 beautifully-rendered world.
—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
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, CT
Ignored by her digitally distracted family, a girl draws a red door on her bedroom wall and steps through. A lush green forest twinkles with lanterns and strung lights; a dizzying castle towers, its gates, turrets and halls linked by complicated waterways; a hovering aircraft festooned with propellers and wheels holds an imprisoned purple-plumed bird. Amid these marvels, the girl appears markedly ordinary with her common pageboy haircut, minimal facial features and simple clothes. She could be anyone, really, and readers will easily appropriate her journey as their own. Putty-colored grays and flat, boxy city shapes defined the girl's urban reality, but here, color rules, modulating from mossy greens to slate blues to dusky purple--all punctuated with her crayon's brilliant red and the yellow of a golden bird cage. White pages highlight action (the girl's crayon whips up a boat, a hot air balloon and a magic carpet when needed), but most spreads deliver fantastically intricate pen, ink and watercolor architectural illustrations that remain playfully engrossing. They conjure contextual questions with no clear answers, or perhaps with so many answers one's imagination finds itself opening door upon door and crossing thresholds, just as the girl did to escape loneliness. After freeing the bird, she needs its help for a quick escape through a small purple door back to her everyday street and back to a boy who wields an equally powerful purple crayon (an obvious and moving homage). An imaginative adventure story whose elaborate illustrations inspire wonder, careful examination and multiple reads. (Picture book. 2-6)