Aaron Becker
ISBN 9780763660536
Candlewick, 2013.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: aaron-becker friendship imagination journey wordless-books

by Aaron Becker

With this wordless tour de force, Aaron Becker gives a nod to the likes of Crockett Johnson and Shaun Tan--but in a completely original work.

The title page sets the tone, as a girl rides a red scooter beneath a blue lantern on an otherwise gray and beige city street. With the turn of a page, the girl sits on her stoop, her red scooter parked within arm's reach. Two stoplights glow red, and a boy nearby holds a purple crayon. A cutaway view of her house shows a mother, father and sister involved in various solo activities. She tries to engage each of them but returns to her room alone. Even her cat departs, but in its former resting place is a red crayon. With the crayon, the girl draws a red door into a verdant world, a red boat that floats into a city of interconnected canals, and a red balloon to save her from a waterfall. While in flight, she witnesses the capture of a purple bird by the crew of a steampunk airship, and becomes determined to free it. The book comes full circle when the bird leads her to a boy with a crayon the color of its feathers.

Becker's breathtaking urban and bucolic scenes map out a visual narrative that reflects the girl's journey--both external and internal. By the conclusion, readers see that all she needs is a likeminded friend. Here's hoping there's more to come from this talented newcomer.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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