Review Blog

Nov 01 2016

Return by Aaron Becker

cover image

Walker Books, 2016. ISBN 9781406368437
(Age: 6-60) Highly recommended. Return concludes Aaron Becker's picture book trilogy that began with the 2014 Caldecott Honor Book Journey. His rich visual narrative once more explores a child's escape from their everyday life. The fantasy world in Return blends artistic and architectural styles, turreted palaces, fantastic flying creatures and extraordinary underwater scenes drawn from diverse cultures and imaginative worlds. Becker's dramatic pen, ink and watercolour paintings are intricate and multilayered; there is something to observe for all ages.
This story begins with a young girl escaping her dark, boring life by drawing a red magic door on her bedroom wall and entering a magic world. Her busy father finally notices her red kite by his desk and follows her into the colourful kingdom beyond. He soon discovers his daughter with a neighbourhood boy and all three are soon drawn into a dangerous quest. Using their magic markers to fashion a dragon for escape, they become immersed in exciting and perilous adventures, requiring their imaginations to survive. The dad becomes as invested as the kids in vanquishing the bad guys. After an amazing journey, they return to the magic door, where the girl expresses her love for her father with a big hug. The red kite flies high above the bright city in contrast to the darkened empty house and presents a poignant ending.
Aaron Becker's wordless picture books are wonderful tools for educators. They encourage learners to create their own narratives, write literary texts, and explore the fantasy genre - the narrative arc, characterisation and experiment with their own artworks. Return is a wonderful book for families to share as well.
Rhyllis Bignell

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