This is the debut picture book from new talent Francesca Sanna, an Italian illustrator and graphic designer based in Switzerland. On first glance The Journey comes across as a slightly darker picture book, with a story that couldn't be more significant for this time we're living in.
The story is a familiar one, a mother and her two children have to leave everything behind and travel many miles into the unknown. The story is based on Francesca's interactions with people forced to seek a home, and is all told from the perspective of a young child. This provides the story with a fantasy element, with the child's imagination often creating scenes filled with caring animals or villainous humans.
Francesca's illustrations work perfectly with the story, using scale and shadows to help heighten the fear and the epic journey this family has to take to try and find refuges in a safe place. Francesca approaches important themes such as loss and violence, amongst the prejudices that come with immigration in a light and sensitive way.
I particularly adored the way Francesca likened immigration to the way nature immigrates. The spread of the family travelling amongst a flock of birds is a beautiful portrayal of this.
I can't emphasize how important a book like this is for younger children and even adults to discover - especially together. Immigration is an important issue and to teach children from an early age about it in a picture book format is a stroke of genius. The Journey shows an often ignored side of the plight of migrants, where the people who are escaping a country in fear of their lives still have to take an journey that is often filled with danger and unknown outcomes. This will help children sympathise with what often is portrayed in the media as a crisis and help them understand the issue better.
The Journey is available to buy now from all good bookshops and from the Flying Eye Books website.