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If someone recommends a good trilogy to you, you might by default imagine it's a set of adult or YA fantasy books before hearing any more about it. Or maybe that's just me? Either way, it's probably safe to say your brain won't race to the conclusion it's a picture book. But that is just what I am about to recommend.

The Journey trilogy by Aaron Becker is a set of three gorgeously illustrated books for all ages and I can't emphasize enough how much I really mean GORGEOUS when I say it.

I mean, just look.

The first book, Journey, is the story of a lonely young girl who discovers she can draw things with a red crayon and they will come to life (remember reading Harold and the Purple Crayon for the first time? So much to inspire the imagination). She draws a door on her bedroom wall and enters through it to another world.

The page where she steps through that door and into a forest filled with lanterns was all it took for me to know I was going to love the rest of this book. What kid hasn't imagined that there is a magical world just out of sight behind something ordinary?

The story follows the girl as she adventures through a beautiful watercolor world, drawing things to help her on her way. She frees a captive, explores new lands, and eventually makes an unexpected new friend.

The following two books, Quest and Return, continue the theme as the girl and her friend have adventures and save the other world from bad guys who want to steal all the colors for themselves.

Who could resist going through a door like this?
Each page is an adventure in itself, as the world is spread before us in minute detail. One could spend ages looking at just one page, finding new details.

In addition to the illustrations, the other amazing thing about these books is that they have no words--and it works perfectly. The illustrations are detailed and magical enough to carry the story without the need of words while the lack of writing means the stories are accessible to all ages and languages.

Journey was a Caldecott Honor book in 2014 and his following two books are equally deserving.

It's a joy to follow the characters through fantastical landscapes with castles, jungles, and underwater kingdoms. Recommended for anyone who enjoys adventure and beautiful art.


These fabulous books are published by Candlewick Press in the US and Walker Books in the UK and are available at your local bookstore.

For more, check out Aaron Becker's website.

I have loved the writing of Lewis Carroll since reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a child. But I was an adult before I really was able to appreciate his humor and true brilliance with words. The Hunting of the Snark is no exception to Carroll's usual cleverness and is packed with nonsense and fun.

I recently discovered that the poem was originally published with illustrations in 1876. The version I grew up with was part of an anthology and thus sadly picture-less. However, I've now seen the illustrations and in my personal opinion the originals are a bit on the scary side (everyone but the bellman has massive heads and exaggerated features).

Original illustration by Henry Holiday. Scary scary.
I am happy to say, that The Hunting of the Snark was recently re-published by Macmillan Children's Books with beautiful new (non-scary) illustrations by children's laureate Chris Riddell.

I loved re-reading the poem alongside Riddell's imaginings of the story. The illustrations perfectly fit the absurdity of the poem, while also being in a style that will appeal to a younger audience. Each character is given a unique visual personality which helps the reader keep everyone straight. The beaver particularly caught my fancy.

Riddell doesn't just illustrate the poem. Like an actor putting a personal spin on a Shakespeare character, he manages to add his own flair by not only illustrating the story, but adding his own mini sub-plot into the images. (I won't spoil it, but I will say that the baker might not be exactly what he seems!)
I loved this image.

While the original illustrations never included an image of the snark itself, in this new version, we get not only to see what a snark looks like, but also a bandersnatch and a jubjub. What more could you ask for, really?

Not at all how I pictured a snark. Not even how I pictured a boojum.
He had bought a large map representing the sea,
   Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
   A map they could all understand.

"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
   Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
   "They are merely conventional signs!

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
   But we've got our brave Captain to thank
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best—
   A perfect and absolute blank!"

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