Monday, November 25, 2019

Review - I Dream of a Journey

I Dream of a Journey
by Akiko Miyakoshi
Date: 2020
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Akiko Miyakoshi's enchanting picture book explores how an innkeeper who spends his days at the crossroads of others' journeys secretly longs to have adventures of his own.

People from all over the world come and go at the innkeeper's little hotel. He enjoys meeting them, and many even become his friends. Only, sometimes, when he goes to sleep at night, the desire to travel far away himself wells up inside him. He dreams of packing a big bag and journeying wherever he pleases, from one unfamiliar town to another. He imagines stopping to visit friends and having wonderful and unexpected experiences. The innkeeper continues to go about his daily routine at his hotel, but, someday, he is sure, he will explore the world.

This beautiful picture book from multi-award-winning and internationally best-selling author-illustrator Akiko Miyakoshi thoughtfully speaks to the common experience of longing for something new and exciting, while feeling comfort in the familiar. The artwork's muted colors and soft focus give it a dreamlike quality and, paired with the spare, simple text, invokes wonder, leaving many questions open to interpretation. This book perfectly captures the feeling of wanderlust, of being curious about the world, wanting to see other places and how other people live. It could ignite intriguing conversations with children about what they long to do. Its message is also likely to resonate with adults.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I went into this book with fairly high expectations, given that I've enjoyed the other books I've read by this author. Sadly, I Dream of a Journey just didn't work that well for me. It seems to lack the magic of The Piano Recital and The Tea Party in the Woods that so intrigued me when I read those books. In contrast, I Dream of a Journey seems more like a lament for adults, with a main character dreaming of the day he can leave his responsibilities behind and live the life he truly dreams of. I'm not sure how well that message is going to resonate with kids.

The illustrations are interesting, with black-and-white drawings of the innkeeper's everyday life contrasting with colourful dream sequences. Various anthropomorphized animals make up the cast of characters. The pictures have a certain charm, and will likely appeal to Miyakoshi's fans.

But the story is just a little too melancholy and... well, mature. It seems to be more about missed opportunities, regrets, and living vicariously through those around us. While the book does end on a hopeful note, the whole tone of the story seems just a little too gloomy and adult for the intended audience.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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