After meeting two girls at a refugee centre in Italy, Sanna went on to collect a series of migration stories from all over the world. When settling to study a Master of Arts in illustration at the Academy of Lucerne, she felt inspired to tell a combined story of the refugee tales that had so touched her heart.
The Journey is a result of those combined tales, and follows the outbreak of war for a young family whose idyllic seaside life is shattered by war. A war that took their father. As the family's world becomes more and more precarious, they know their only chance of survival is to leave their home.
Mum and two kids pack and flee, travelling at night to avoid being seen. As their journey continues, the more they have to leave behind, until very soon they are travelling with little more than the clothes on their backs--and the overwhelming desire to survive.
When they reach the wall to their country, they are told by a ferocious guard they cannot go through--they must go back. With no other options, the family travel through the darkened forest, terrified and alone, and arrive at the sea--an expanse they know they must cross.
Will they make it to the other side?
The most poignant page in this book is the parallel of migrating birds flying above the family as they flee. The narrator speaks of the birds migrating alongside them, yet their feathered friends have no borders to cross.
This page made me weep.
This family only want their story to begin again. Like many in this world, we'll never know if that wish will come true.
The illustrations in this book are moving and beautifully rendered, combining modern stylings with both retro and folksy colouring and patterning on uncoated paper. It's pure visual joy that combines so beautifully with a deeply touching story about humanity and the current need, more than ever before, to connect with our fellow man.
Title: The Journey
Author/Illustrator: Francesca Sanna
Publisher: Flying Eye, $27.99
Publication Date: 1 July 2016
Format: Hard cover
For ages: 5 - 10
Type: Picture Book