Becker - Book Reviews

***** - Excellent
**** - Good
*** - Okay
** - Bad
* - Terrible
+ - Half-star

Journey
Aaron Becker
Candlewick
Fiction, YA Picture Book
****+

DESCRIPTION: Bored and ignored, a girl picks up a red pen and draws a door on her bedroom wall, leading her into a strange and wondrous world.

REVIEW: In the vein of the classic Harold and the Purple Crayon, this wordless tale celebrates the magic of imagination. Fascinating wonders await as the nameless heroine explores a castle of canals and giant airships, in an adventure that leads her to discover she's not as alone as she thought she was. The detailed artwork invites one to linger over each page. An enjoyable read, even without words.

You might also enjoy:
Dream a Little Dream (Piers Anthony and Julie Brady, Fiction - When a world created by human dreams is in trouble, one of their own must travel to the real world)
Chloe and the Lion (Mac Barnett, YA Picture Book - An author's attempts to tell a story are interrupted by his illustrator and his heroine)
Animalia (Graeme Base, YA Picture Book - An imaginative A-to-Z picture book featuring animals)
Quest (Aaaron Becker, YA Picture Book - A girl and boy travel to a gray land on a quest, armed with magic pens)
Cat Hiss-tory: A Feline Tour through the Ages (Bill Bell, YA Picture Book - Fanciful "history" picture book)
The Curious Garden (Peter Brown, YA Picture Book - A city boy meets a neglected garden)
Storybound (Marissa Burt, YA Fiction - A girl falls into the world of Story)
The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home (Drew Daywalt, YA Picture Book - Letters and postcards from a boy's box of crayons)
Usborne Fantasy Quests (Andy Dixon, YA Fantasy/Picture Book - Three seek-and-find picture puzzle adventure tales)
Knight's Castle (Edward Eager, YA Fiction - After a careless wish, four children find their stories and games taking on lives of their own)
The Neverending Story (Michael Ende, YA Fiction - A storybook pulls a schoolboy into the world of Fantastica)
The Inkheart trilogy (Cornelia Funke, YA Fiction - A bookbinder's voice can read people out of stories... and into them)
Coraline (Neil Gaiman, YA Fiction - A girl finds a surreal mirror version of her flat)
The Dinotopia series (James Gurney, YA Fiction - The illustrated journey of a professor and his son through a lost world of sapient dinosaurs)
Libriomancer (Jim C. Hines, Fiction - A man who can pull items out of books must save the world)
Little Red Writing (Joan Holub, YA Picture Book - The brave pencil Red sets out to write a story for class, but finds a big bad pencil sharpener instead)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Book of Story Beginnings (Kristin Kladstrup, YA Fiction - Writing stories in a special journal makes them come to life, for good or ill)
Hot Chocolate for the Unicorn (Mary E. Lowd, Fiction - A woman prepares for two special visitors)
Fairy Dreams (Carol McLean-Carr, YA Picture Book - Fairies visit a girl's room, stealing her toys and replacing them with magical gifts)
Tell Me a Dragon (Jackie Morris, YA Picture Book - Everyone has their own unique dragon)
Dragons Love (Stephen Parlato, YA Picture Book - Dragons love many wondrous, imaginative things in the world)
The Cinder-Eyed Cats (Eric Rohmann, YA Picture Book - In a world of dreams, great cats and bright fish dance through the night skies)
The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - In a world where gifted Rithmatists infuse chalk lines with power, an ungifted academy boy is drawn into danger when students begin vanishing)
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (Dan Santat, YA Picture Book - Tired of waiting for his human child to claim him, an imaginary friend heads for the real world)
Fairy Foals (Suzanah, YA Picture Book - An artist discovers tiny winged horses in her garden)
Imagine a Night and Imagine a Day (Sarah L. Thompson, YA Picture Book - Fantasy images by Rob Gonsalves)
Behind the Canvas (Alexander Vance, YA Fiction - A girl discovers a magical world composed of oil paintings)
Mr. Wuffles! (David Wiesner, YA Picture Book - A housecat's new "toy" is a tiny alien ship)
Sector 7 (David Wiesner, YA Picture Book - A young artist meets a playful cloud)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers magical cupboard doors to other worlds, and unwittingly unleashes a terrible danger)
The Flying Dragon Room (Audrey Wood, YA Picture Book - A boy uses a special tookit to build fantastic rooms)
I Am A Story (Dan Yaccarino, YA Picture Book - An ode to the timeless persistence of stories, from ancient to modern times)
What Do You Do With an Idea? (Kobi Yamada, YA Picture Book - A child befriends a little idea, and helps it grow big)
Harold and the Purple Crayon 50th Anniversary Edition (Purple Crayon Books) (Amazon Link - The classic story by Crockett Johnson)
The Magical Drawings of Moony B. Finch (Amazon Link - A childhood favorite, no longer in print, where a boy discovers his drawings come to life when touched)

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Quest
(Sequel to Journey)
Aaron Becker
Candlewick
Fiction, YA Picture Book
****+

DESCRIPTION: A girl and a boy, waiting out a storm under a bridge, are startled by the arrival of a strange man, who hands them a map before being carried away by gray guards. With their magic pens, they follow him into the gray world beyond the door, searching for the lost colors that will restore the realm.

REVIEW: A direct sequel to Becker's Journey, this continues the imaginative, wordless adventure of the girl with the red pen, joined by her friend and his purple bird. Small touches recall her previous visit to the magic realm, as the pair travel to deeper and stranger places in pursuit of the missing colors. Just as good as the first book, with the same sense of grand imagination.

You might also enjoy:
Dream a Little Dream (Piers Anthony and Julie Brady, Fiction - When a world created by human dreams is in trouble, one of their own must travel to the real world)
Chloe and the Lion (Mac Barnett, YA Picture Book - An author's attempts to tell a story are interrupted by his illustrator and his heroine)
Animalia (Graeme Base, YA Picture Book - An imaginative A-to-Z picture book featuring animals)
Journey (Aaaron Becker, YA Picture Book - A lonely girl draws a door on the wall with her red pen, leading her to another world)
Cat Hiss-tory: A Feline Tour through the Ages (Bill Bell, YA Picture Book - Fanciful "history" picture book)
The Curious Garden (Peter Brown, YA Picture Book - A city boy meets a neglected garden)
Storybound (Marissa Burt, YA Fiction - A girl falls into the world of Story)
The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home (Drew Daywalt, YA Picture Book - Letters and postcards from a boy's box of crayons)
Usborne Fantasy Quests (Andy Dixon, YA Fantasy/Picture Book - Three seek-and-find picture puzzle adventure tales)
Knight's Castle (Edward Eager, YA Fiction - After a careless wish, four children find their stories and games taking on lives of their own)
The Neverending Story (Michael Ende, YA Fiction - A storybook pulls a schoolboy into the world of Fantastica)
The Inkheart trilogy (Cornelia Funke, YA Fiction - A bookbinder's voice can read people out of stories... and into them)
Coraline (Neil Gaiman, YA Fiction - A girl finds a surreal mirror version of her flat)
The Dinotopia series (James Gurney, YA Fiction - The illustrated journey of a professor and his son through a lost world of sapient dinosaurs)
Libriomancer (Jim C. Hines, Fiction - A man who can pull items out of books must save the world)
Little Red Writing (Joan Holub, YA Picture Book - The brave pencil Red sets out to write a story for class, but finds a big bad pencil sharpener instead)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Book of Story Beginnings (Kristin Kladstrup, YA Fiction - Writing stories in a special journal makes them come to life, for good or ill)
Hot Chocolate for the Unicorn (Mary E. Lowd, Fiction - A woman prepares for two special visitors)
Fairy Dreams (Carol McLean-Carr, YA Picture Book - Fairies visit a girl's room, stealing her toys and replacing them with magical gifts)
Tell Me a Dragon (Jackie Morris, YA Picture Book - Everyone has their own unique dragon)
Dragons Love (Stephen Parlato, YA Picture Book - Dragons love many wondrous, imaginative things in the world)
The Cinder-Eyed Cats (Eric Rohmann, YA Picture Book - In a world of dreams, great cats and bright fish dance through the night skies)
The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - In a world where gifted Rithmatists infuse chalk lines with power, an ungifted academy boy is drawn into danger when students begin vanishing)
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (Dan Santat, YA Picture Book - Tired of waiting for his human child to claim him, an imaginary friend heads for the real world)
Fairy Foals (Suzanah, YA Picture Book - An artist discovers tiny winged horses in her garden)
Imagine a Night and Imagine a Day (Sarah L. Thompson, YA Picture Book - Fantasy images by Rob Gonsalves)
Behind the Canvas (Alexander Vance, YA Fiction - A girl discovers a magical world composed of oil paintings)
Mr. Wuffles! (David Wiesner, YA Picture Book - A housecat's new "toy" is a tiny alien ship)
Sector 7 (David Wiesner, YA Picture Book - A young artist meets a playful cloud)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers magical cupboard doors to other worlds, and unwittingly unleashes a terrible danger)
The Flying Dragon Room (Audrey Wood, YA Picture Book - A boy uses a special tookit to build fantastic rooms)
I Am A Story (Dan Yaccarino, YA Picture Book - An ode to the timeless persistence of stories, from ancient to modern times)
What Do You Do With an Idea? (Kobi Yamada, YA Picture Book - A child befriends a little idea, and helps it grow big)
Harold and the Purple Crayon 50th Anniversary Edition (Purple Crayon Books) (Amazon Link - The classic story by Crockett Johnson)
The Magical Drawings of Moony B. Finch (Amazon Link - A childhood favorite, no longer in print, where a boy discovers his drawings come to life when touched)

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Return
(Sequel to Journey and Quest)
Aaron Becker
Candlewick
Fiction, YA Picture Book
****+

DESCRIPTION: When her busy father ignores her, a girl draws a door on her wall and returns to the world beyond, where art and color come alive and where she's a hero. Her father follows, and finds himself swept up in the adventure when a new enemy attacks.

REVIEW: I saw this go through the library today, and had to grab a copy for a quick read as I worked. Like the first two books, Return tells a great, imaginative story with no words needed. This time, a grown-up joins the action along with the girl and her friend from the previous tales. Her father helps, but doesn't overwhelm or try to take control from the children. As for the world beyond the door, it remains as wild and wondrous as ever, with page-filling images bursting with color.

You might also enjoy:
Dream a Little Dream (Piers Anthony and Julie Brady, Fiction - When a world created by human dreams is in trouble, one of their own must travel to the real world)
Chloe and the Lion (Mac Barnett, YA Picture Book - An author's attempts to tell a story are interrupted by his illustrator and his heroine)
Animalia (Graeme Base, YA Picture Book - An imaginative A-to-Z picture book featuring animals)
Journey (Aaaron Becker, YA Picture Book - A lonely girl draws a door on the wall with her red pen, leading her to another world)
Cat Hiss-tory: A Feline Tour through the Ages (Bill Bell, YA Picture Book - Fanciful "history" picture book)
The Curious Garden (Peter Brown, YA Picture Book - A city boy meets a neglected garden)
Storybound (Marissa Burt, YA Fiction - A girl falls into the world of Story)
The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home (Drew Daywalt, YA Picture Book - Letters and postcards from a boy's box of crayons)
Usborne Fantasy Quests (Andy Dixon, YA Fantasy/Picture Book - Three seek-and-find picture puzzle adventure tales)
Knight's Castle (Edward Eager, YA Fiction - After a careless wish, four children find their stories and games taking on lives of their own)
The Neverending Story (Michael Ende, YA Fiction - A storybook pulls a schoolboy into the world of Fantastica)
The Inkheart trilogy (Cornelia Funke, YA Fiction - A bookbinder's voice can read people out of stories... and into them)
Coraline (Neil Gaiman, YA Fiction - A girl finds a surreal mirror version of her flat)
The Dinotopia series (James Gurney, YA Fiction - The illustrated journey of a professor and his son through a lost world of sapient dinosaurs)
Libriomancer (Jim C. Hines, Fiction - A man who can pull items out of books must save the world)
Little Red Writing (Joan Holub, YA Picture Book - The brave pencil Red sets out to write a story for class, but finds a big bad pencil sharpener instead)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Book of Story Beginnings (Kristin Kladstrup, YA Fiction - Writing stories in a special journal makes them come to life, for good or ill)
Hot Chocolate for the Unicorn (Mary E. Lowd, Fiction - A woman prepares for two special visitors)
Fairy Dreams (Carol McLean-Carr, YA Picture Book - Fairies visit a girl's room, stealing her toys and replacing them with magical gifts)
Tell Me a Dragon (Jackie Morris, YA Picture Book - Everyone has their own unique dragon)
Dragons Love (Stephen Parlato, YA Picture Book - Dragons love many wondrous, imaginative things in the world)
The Cinder-Eyed Cats (Eric Rohmann, YA Picture Book - In a world of dreams, great cats and bright fish dance through the night skies)
The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - In a world where gifted Rithmatists infuse chalk lines with power, an ungifted academy boy is drawn into danger when students begin vanishing)
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (Dan Santat, YA Picture Book - Tired of waiting for his human child to claim him, an imaginary friend heads for the real world)
Fairy Foals (Suzanah, YA Picture Book - An artist discovers tiny winged horses in her garden)
Imagine a Night and Imagine a Day (Sarah L. Thompson, YA Picture Book - Fantasy images by Rob Gonsalves)
Behind the Canvas (Alexander Vance, YA Fiction - A girl discovers a magical world composed of oil paintings)
Mr. Wuffles! (David Wiesner, YA Picture Book - A housecat's new "toy" is a tiny alien ship)
Sector 7 (David Wiesner, YA Picture Book - A young artist meets a playful cloud)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers magical cupboard doors to other worlds, and unwittingly unleashes a terrible danger)
The Flying Dragon Room (Audrey Wood, YA Picture Book - A boy uses a special tookit to build fantastic rooms)
I Am A Story (Dan Yaccarino, YA Picture Book - An ode to the timeless persistence of stories, from ancient to modern times)
What Do You Do With an Idea? (Kobi Yamada, YA Picture Book - A child befriends a little idea, and helps it grow big)
Harold and the Purple Crayon 50th Anniversary Edition (Purple Crayon Books) (Amazon Link - The classic story by Crockett Johnson)
The Magical Drawings of Moony B. Finch (Amazon Link - A childhood favorite, no longer in print, where a boy discovers his drawings come to life when touched)

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