9781909263994The Journey
By Francesca Sanna
Published by Nobrow Ltd

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“…wonderful teaching tool for those who are welcoming refugees into their community. For those who have escaped war, this book might prompt them to share their own stories.”
The New York Times Book Review

With haunting echoes of the current refugee crisis this beautifully illustrated book explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leave their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war. This book will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

Background from the Creator
The Journey
is actually a story about many journeys, and it began with the story of two girls I met in a refugee center in Italy. After meeting them I realized that behind their journey lay something very powerful. So I began collecting more stories of migration and interviewing many people from many different countries. A few months later, in September 2014, when I started studying a Master of Arts in Illustration at the Academy of Lucerne, I knew I wanted to create a book about these true stories. Almost every day on the news we hear the terms “migrants” and “refugees” but we rarely ever speak to or hear the personal journeys that they have had to take. This book is a collage of all those personal stories and the incredible strength of the people within them.

Illustration from THE JOURNEY © Francesca Sanna
Reviews & Accolades

“A timely, powerful picture book about refugees.Although the setting’s time and place are unspecified, the story of a widowed mother fleeing a war-torn homeland with her two children reverberates with the real-world experiences of contemporary Syrian refugees and others crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe. The family members have black hair and pale skin, and the mother takes advice from a friend who wears the hijab, though her own hair is uncovered. They travel by car, by bicycle, hidden in the backs of trucks, and on foot until they reach a wall, where a border guard prevents them from crossing. Here, expressive, posterlike art renders the guard a monstrously tall, red-bearded man who towers over the wall and sends the family back into the forest. In a heart-rending spread, facing pages depict the mother cradling her children on the verso as the child narrator confides, “In the darkness the noises of the forest scare me,” while on the recto the child continues, “But my mother is with us and she is never scared”—with a picture of the family in the same huddled pose but with the children now asleep and tears streaming from the mothers’ eyes. After a dangerous sea crossing, the family moves with hope toward a safer place, though there is no certain happily-ever-after resolution. A necessary, artful, and searing story.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Storybook imagery—foreboding woods, looming giants, and creatures of forest and sea—collides with desperately real circumstances as a family seeks haven from encroaching war. As Sanna’s debut opens, a family of four builds a vast sand castle city at the beach as inky waters pour in ominously. Those waves transform into swiping, grabbing hands on the following page (“Every day bad things started happening around us”), and the children’s father is soon killed. After the family decides to leave for a faraway country, Sanna traces their long journey, devoting attention to the children’s reluctance to leave behind familiar surroundings and the sheer difficulty of their effort. “The further we go… the more we leave behind,” she writes as the family switches from vehicle to vehicle, sometimes hiding beneath fruit or clay jugs. Sanna’s crisp-edged, screenprintlike forms strike a careful balance between representing visceral dangers and offering tiny measures of hope. Given the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and immigration debates in the U.S. and abroad, Sanna’s story is well poised to spark necessary conversations about the costs of war.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“…Francesca Sanna’s artwork…is both realistic and fantastical, done in a striking, graphic style…The Journey will be a wonderful teaching tool for those who are welcoming refugees into their community. For those who have escaped war, this book might prompt them to share their own stories.”
The New York Times Book Review

“The crisp blend of realistic and fantastical illustrations in Sanna’s debut picture book impart as much content and emotional depth as its carefully woven text narrated by an anonymous child. […] Based on a compilation of immigrant interviews, this selection is timely and beautiful, appropriate for use with young children given the continuing situation of refugees around the world made particularly visible in recent years.”
School Library Journal, Starred Review

Simultaneously heartbreaking, scary, and brightly hopeful, this timely tale with simply captivating artwork will spur little ones to ask questions that lack easy answers.”
Booklist, Starred Review

Groups Represented
Middle Eastern (Unnamed Country)

Theme: Family Death
Theme: Fleeing Persecution
Theme: Refugee Life

Europe (Unnamed Country)

Engagement Projects & Resources
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