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Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Journey, written and illustrated by Francesca Sanna. Flying Eye Books, Publishers Group Canada. 2016. $25.95 ages 6 and up

"And one day the war
took my father. Since
that day everything has
become darker and my
mother has become more
and more worried. The
other day, one of my
mother's friends told her ... "

Children need to know the stories of the many refugee families presently fleeing from the terror of living in war-torn countries. They are constantly in the news these days, and all are longing to find peace and acceptance in a new, safe place for them.

The family in this book loves being at the beach. They play with abandon on weekends away from the city and do all those things that people do at the beach - build sand castles, read in the sun, watch birds and people, commune with the nature that surrounds them. War changes everything.

Word is passed from friend to friend about planning an escape to a safer place - a country far away from where they are now. It is their only hope.

"We don't want to leave but our mother tells us it
will be a great adventure. We put everything we have
in suitcases and say goodbye to everyone we know."

It is a long journey, fraught with anxiety and made up of many parts. As they approach the border wall, they have little more than what they can carry when they try to scale it. An angry guard sees them and sends them back. An unfamiliar man provides aid for money. They find their way to the sea, a huge blue expanse of water that has no end. Stories help pass the time through endless days at sea. When land is reached, there remain many borders to cross before they may just find a new home where they can be safe once again.

This is a book that can be shared with young children. Francesca Sanna creates images that evoke the cost of war to all who are threatened by it. It is full of motion, even to the migrating birds that seem to be accompanying the family. Emotional, often stark, yet also hopeful, they will allow readers to share the emotions felt by the many refugee families looking for shelter and safety.

"The further we go ...
the more we leave behind."

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