Journey Quest Return (Aaron Becker; Candlewick, 2013, 2014, 2016)

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I almost didn’t blog about these books because I am intimidated to try to capture their magic and message in a few hundred words. These books are a visual marvel. Although there are no words-not a one-this trilogy tells a story that is exciting and emotionally charged.

A bored child of a busy family uses a coloured crayon to draw a door and enter into a new world. At the end of her heroic adventures to save the purple bird from the evil soldiers in Journey, she meets a boy with an equally powerful purple crayon. In Quest, they achieve their mission to find the other four magical crayons and return them to the king. Return completes the trilogy’s emotional story as the distracted father realises his folly and follows his daughter into her secret world. Initially she is angry with him but he eventually saves the purple bird and the kingdom from the villains. All is forgiven.

There are many fine details sketched into each and every page. In an interview, Becker shared that he moved to Europe for a number of months so that he could become a better drawer; the intricate land of castles and kingdoms that the reader is transported to demonstrates the success of his experiment. The palette’s change from sepia tones to brilliant colours as the crayons are found and their powers unleashed adds a layer of visual interest. These books could be poured over for hours by children and adults. It’s no wonder that Journey received a Caldecott honour in 2014.

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