Saturday, December 27, 2014
REVIEW: Quest by Aaron Becker
Series: Journey Trilogy #2
Genre: Picture Book/Fantasy
Audience: Preschool–Grade 3
Summary: A king from a magical realm escapes into the ordinary world just long enough to meet two children in a seemingly ordinary city park. He gives them a map and the tools they need to rescue him just before several soldiers seize him and take him back through the door. After the king is recaptured, the intrepid kids find their way into the magical place and embark on a quest to free the king and lift darkness from the kingdom.
Last year I raved about Aaron Becker's Journey. It was one of my frontrunners for the 2014 Caldecott Medal, and I was thrilled when Becker nabbed an Honor for his majestic artwork. In Quest, our heroine and her new friend return for yet another journey into the wonderful kingdom of imagination and must face new challenges and dangers. But it is through quick thinking and teamwork that the kids overcome obstacles rather than confrontation or violence. Like Journey, Quest is a wonderful foray into creative problem solving and an ode to the twin powers of art and imagination.
The artwork here is more muted than the vivid landscapes of Journey, featuring a rain-drenched park, a dark kingdom under siege, and foreboding mountains. And yet the children are able to bring color into the world of gray. The scenes are rich and layered; the details of several scenes evoke the ancient temples and the ruins of different civilizations. There are also intriguing parallels between the the statuary of the real-world park and the children's magical adventures. Observant or history-minded children will delight in examining the various scenes and are sure to tease out new details with each encounter. Tiny details are carried over from the first book while others hint at adventures to still to come. The publisher blurb promises that fans will have one more addition to the series, and I am eager to experience the magical adventure that awaits!