Name of Book: The Journey
Author: Francesca Sanna
Illustrator: Francesca Sanna
Publisher: Flying Eye Books
Audience: Ages 5-8
Summary: This beautifully illustrated book came out of the true stories of refugee families looking for a new home when their lives are impacted by war. The search for hope and a future for children and parents living in a real world of such loss and fear comes through to the end. As the reality of life for a refugee family escaping to a new home is told, a happy ending is not described, but hope moves on beyond the end of the story.
Literary elements at work in the story: This book tells the fictional story of a refugee family through simple words and strong illustrations. The Journey is told through the view of the child as narrator. The setting is nonspecific as to time, place, or religious orientation. The words are not graphic in telling the story. The illustrations tell that darker part of the story (they can be rather dark for very sensitive children)
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The writer/artist’s perspective comes from long experience working with children of families fleeing war in the present world situation. The artwork makes the story available to a younger audience while also helping them look to life and hope in a world beyond war. Discussion and questions can help express those fears and look to the hope of a better place for the child in the story.
Theological Conversation Partners: The theme of hope when families are uprooted and travelling to find a new home is the center of this story. The reality of losing material goods and trusting help along the way is also part of the story. The Scriptural references that come to mind with this story are also some of the hardest and most repeated themes in the Old and New Testaments. My first thought was of the family of Jesus fleeing to Egypt after his birth (Matthew 2.). The theme of journey from Passover in Genesis, to the Joseph narratives (Genesis 37-48), to a promised land of milk and honey, to fleeing again throughout the Old Testament is repeated in this story (see Elijah and the widow (1 Kings 17). The opportunity to converse about what makes for life and community together in our world across cultural diversity is also an accessible theme in The Journey. The Psalms also serve as a comfort to those finding a new home and experiencing fear and trust in God in the midst of trying times. Some Psalms to look to are: Psalm 23, 42, 46, 91, 100, 104:1-28. All offer strength during times of trouble as well as praise for God in all the earth.
Faith Talk Questions
- What is the first picture in the story you remember?
- Have you ever moved to a new place? For a brief time, or longer time? How did it feel to go somewhere totaling new that was new to your life? Were you afraid? What carried you through that first time in a new place? (You might want to use a backpack to focus on these questions.)
- What are some way we can make a difference for people who come to our lives from other places that seem strange to us today? (This could be a good discussion when a new visitor has come to our congregation, or when a congregation is serving the homeless shelter for a week, or when visiting a food pantry.)
- When was the last time you made a new friend? What were some of the wonderful things about meeting someone new?
- What are some prayers we can offer to God when we are moving to a new place? (Look to a Psalm reference to begin, then let them voice their words calling out to God to be with them.)
This review is written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and retired Christian educator Patricia Freshney McKee.
The Journey by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.