The Voyage by Robert Vescio and Andrea Edmonds
From the picture on the front cover, and immediately inside the story itself, this family, with Mum, Dad, a boy, a girl and a duck, will engage you in their journey and tug at your heartstrings. Fleeing a war-torn country and escaping danger, they are also leaving behind happy memories of family and friends. After a terror-stricken journey on a boat through crashing waves, a rescue ship arrives just in time to save them and give them the hopeful opportunity for a fresh start. Whatever homeland this family and their duck are from, their courageous voyage speaks to the plight of millions of refugees around the world, to whom this book has been dedicated.
The Voyage is told almost entirely through pictures – there are only fourteen words in the whole book – and it can be shared with very young readers who can absorb the sense of the story, as well as with older readers. Andrea Edmonds’ illustrations are breathtaking – they are colourful, with rich patterns, and instantly endear us to their characters. There is lots going on in the page to hold attention. The pictures speak as loudly as the words. I can’t get across how much I loved that the pet duck was part of the family, and I also enjoyed the sense of continuity as the father played music in his homeland, when he travelled, and in a new country.
The Voyage is an experience for children to learn about and share in. Those who haven’t faced the same struggles as the children in this book can absorb them with a great deal of empathy. The book gently opens minds to how other people live and the kind of challenges people can face as refugees – having to leave home and continue family life somewhere else. In deftly dealing with human experience, it will be widely appreciated and understood. The Voyage is a beautiful book.
Reviewer: Susannah Whaley
EK Books, $24.99