The Journey
Author: Sarah Stewart; Illustrator: David Small
Pages: 40
Publisher/Date: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/2006
ISBN: 0374400105
Age Levels: 5 and up

Book Review

The Journey tells the story of Hannah, a young Amish girl, who travels with her mother and her mother's friend to the big city— Chicago. Each evening she tells her diary about the adventures she had that day. Hannah is filled with awe at the sites which greet her:
Dear Diary,

Today we took a boat ride. All that we've seen from the sidewalks is even lovelier from the water. If I stacked our home, the barn, and my one-room schoolhouse on top of each other, they wouldn't even reach the fourth floor of one of those huge skyscrapers! The city has more of everything. More buildings. More cars and buses. More people—all kinds of people—with almost all the colors of a quilt in their different clothes and faces. Going down the street is like making a journey across the whole world. I feel like happiness has rushed up and grabbed me from behind!
Juxtaposed between each day's sights with accompanying diary entry, is a double-page spread which depicts Hannah’s simple Amish lifestyle. After reading the diary entry above, for example, readers turn the page to find a wordless double-page spread showing a gathering of Amish women quietly working on a colorful quilt.

On her last day in the city, Hannah visits a museum. The illustration shows her standing in front of Monet’s painting of haystacks. "I cried today, our last morning in this great city, standing in front of a painting at the art museum . . . I hope Aunt Clara won't think I’m being a big baby when I tell her how much I've missed her and my pony and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa and my sisters and brothers!" The double-page spread which follows depicts the bus bringing Hannah back home as it passes by two large haystacks.

Stewart and Small are master storytellers. There is never a false word in Stewart’s graceful, understated prose. And Small's pen and watercolor illustrations capture perfectly Hannah's excitement at being in the big city, as well as her simple, rural lifestyle back home. Supremely satisfying.

©2006 Education Oasis
Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis.

About the Author

Sarah Stewart grew up in Texas. She has held the position of teacher, speechwriter, and ombudsman. She and her husband, David Small, share their historic home on a bend of the St. Joseph River in Michigan with a dog named Simon and a cat named Otis.

About the Illustrator

David Small is currently an author and illustrator of books for children as well as a freelance commercial artist.