The Journey by Francesca Sanna Review

I was so pleased to see that The Journey, by Francesca Sanna, made the Publisher’s Weekly list of Best Children’s Books of 2016.  It’s a gorgeous, deeply moving book.  I found myself wishing that it could be mandatory reading for everyone since it presents the plight of war refugees with such clarity and insight.

In this past year, we’ve been subjected to so much political simplification about this matter, it’s brilliant to see a picture book restore the humanity and complexity to the story.  It looks at the situation through the eyes of a child.

The book’s author’s note says:


Published by Flying Eye Books, The Journey is beautifully bound and presented.


I appreciate Flying Eye for taking a risk on this book, since it’s not a happy children’s story.  And it doesn’t offer solid closure.  In fact, it reads like a poem to what is lost when war tears a country apart.  The illustrations are both simple and complex, and very moving.


I’ve shared this book with more adults than children.  The children I do share it with are over 10, watching the news, and listening to what is being said about refugees, immigrants, and the disenfranchised.

It’s been hard for me to see so much hatred and distrust rise up in the upcoming presidential elections.  It’s particularly hard to see the children I work with exposed to this kind of fearmongering for the first time.

The discussions The Journey has inspired haven’t been easy.  What causes a war?  What is a border?  Why don’t people help each other more?

The children I work with haven’t had sheltered lives.  Since most of them have been in the foster care system, they know exactly what it means to lose everything.  Their journey has been harrowing but none of us has seen actual war in our country in our life time.

One of my 11 year old friends said, when he gets big, he’s going to try to make it easier for people to find a place where they will be safe.

I hope one day he gets that big.  I hope we all do.

Sanna’s use of migratory birds as a metaphor for refugees brings hope into the story.

I know for now that The Journey is book that will make our hearts bigger, even if that growth feels painful.

Blessed are the peacemakers.




4 thoughts on “The Journey by Francesca Sanna Review

  1. Been having trouble finding your latest book recommendations within the public library system – so I have recommended them for purchase (there is an online form to fill out). Just found out today that 10 copies of ‘The Journey’ have been ordered and will be distributed throughout the Auckland public library system! Thank you for sharing your knowledge of books – and hooray for public libraries 🙂

    1. Thanks for asking the library for the book! It’s a great way to make sure it gets read. I’m pleased to see it’s getting lots of attention. And yes! Hooray for librarians! I learned practically everything I know from the library.

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