Journey by Aaron Becker

Everything you've read or heard about Aaron Becker's Journey (Candlewick) is true: it's a magical, beautiful book, more than a little reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon, with detailed illustrations done in watercolor and pen and ink. And wordless, like Barbara Lehman's The Red Book (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2004), with which it also has a lot in common: crossing oceans, finding friends.

My favorite spreads are the earlier ones, of a forest hung with fairy lights and Chinese lanterns, and of the glorious loch castle on the cover: I lingered there for a long time. Unfortunately for me, Journey doesn't. Instead, it takes to the air, and I'm not entirely on board with the steampunk airships and samurai soldiers--bad guys, ordered by their emperor to catch and cage a purple, phoenix-like bird. And keep it in a golden pagoda. Hmm.

Anyway, girl frees bird, bird rescues girl (there's a magic carpet of her own making involved), girl meets boy, the end. For now. It's still a magical, beautiful book, only not quite one for me.

You might love it, though. I really wanted to--just look at it!