Award-Winning Books International It's Monday What Are You Reading Middle Eastern Literature Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Of Journeys and Finding Freedom in “The Journey” and “The Sky Of Afghanistan”


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

These two beautifully illustrated picturebooks share a glimpse of pain, peril, and deliverance. They speak of the plight of those who have been turned out from their homes and the steadfast faith of young dreamers who believe that the skies still offer hope.

The Journey

Written and Illustrated by: Francesca Sanna
Published by: Flying Eye Books, 2016 ISBN: 1909263990 (ISBN13: 9781909263994) Literary Award: Premi Llibreter de narrativa for Àlbum il·lustrat (2016)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

If you are looking for a book that explores themes of war, displacement, and seeking refuge in an accessible and gentle manner, then this is the book for you. It shows the story of an ordinary family, much like any one else’s, whose lives have been turned upside down because of war which brought “nothing but chaos.”

It also speaks of how people whisper amongst themselves in their efforts to find a way out of a bleak situation and to help each other out.

While the themes are huge and far-reaching, the emotions more than can be contained in the pages of a book, there is beauty in the telling of this story, marked by so much luminous art, that there is a gentleness and a kind of sanctuary seeping into the narrative that calms the spirit, and assures the reader that somehow, despite the bad things going on, things will be alright.

The journey to this safe place is marked by massive walls, many things left behind, angry guards, and furious waves. Yet, it is the mother’s steadfastness, quiet strength that stood out for me most of all, and the sense that even in a clear ending, there is a beginning. For teachers who wish to make use of this gorgeous book, please do check out this nine-paged, downloadable PDF teacher resource created by Amnesty International that includes discussion guides, extension activities and many more.

The Sky Of Afghanistan

Written by: Ana Eulate Illustrated by: Sonja Wimmer English Translation by: Jon Brokenbrow
Published by: Cuento de Luz 2012 ISBN: 8415503040 (ISBN13: 9788415503040) Literary Award: Gold Meadal Winner 2012 Moonbeam Awards – Peacemaking
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

The first time that I read this book, I really did not know what to think or feel. While I am in love with anything that Sonja Wimmer creates, I couldn’t figure out how I felt about the text.

Essentially, this is meant to be an uplifting book told from the eyes of a young Afghan girl who believes that a better world is possible “where harmony reigns, a place of togetherness..”

I read it again, and I sense that it must be the last sentence that simply hammer in the “peace” objective and the too-explicit message to “hold hands” and so forth that felt manipulative, at least for me.

That being said, I still feel that this has a place in anyone’s library, as the message, regardless of its lack of subtlety, sometimes does need to be explicitly articulated for it to be heard. I still feel that books do find us differently wherever we are in our lives. Plus, Sonja Wimmer’s art is gorgeous as per usual.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

13 comments on “[Monday Reading] Of Journeys and Finding Freedom in “The Journey” and “The Sky Of Afghanistan”

  1. Pussreboots

    I’m adding both books to my wishlist.

    It was another busy week but I did manage to finish some books. Come see what I’m reading.


  2. Beautiful illustrations to these books, thanks for sharing!

    Amanda @ Mrs B’s Book Reviews


  3. What beautiful, detailed illustrations!


  4. Thank you for sharing. These books are beautiful. I’m looking forward to seeing next week’s titles as you continue to explore this important theme.


  5. These books look amazing, and I had never heard of any of them. Thank you for a great post!


  6. Michele

    The Journey was fantastic. Thanks for your thoughts about the Afghanistan book.


  7. lindabaie

    I loved The Journey, Myra, think it is a book for sharing with students about the terrible challenges faced by those who must leave their homes so loved. Thanks for sharing The Sky of Afghanistan too. My library has it!


  8. I now see what you mean by your comment on my blog about Exit West.
    I have put a hold on both of these titles at my library. I know that if you recommend a picture book, I will enjoy it.
    It sounds like both of these books should be in school library collections for Remembrance Day.


  9. I really enjoyed The Journey, though The Sky of Afghanistan is new to me, and I can’t wait to read it. I sometimes feel that adults forget how perceptive children can actually be, and hammer in messages that children would naturally grasp in their own way anyway.


  10. I loved The Journey! So, I’ll definitely have to look for The Sky of Afghanistan. Have a great week!


  11. I will definitely try to find the Journey in my local library. Thanks for the review!


  12. I loved The Journey, and you’ve chosen just the right adjectives for it. A powerful book that I am still thinking about months after reading it for the first time. Sonja Wimmer is a new-to-me illustrator, so I am off to find some of her work.


  13. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Favourite Titles Across GatheringBooks’ 2017 Reading Themes – Gathering Books

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