Journeys: In Children’s Books

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Books Can Take Us On Many Journeys

Many books for children have journeys in them. It might be a journey to a real place, an imaginary place or on a journey of discovery for the character in the book, who learns new things about himself/herself and about life.

Young Children

Michael Rosen’s book, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ is a journey with brilliant illustrations by Helen Oxenbury.

‘This picture book follows five children and their dog as they set out on an adventure to catch a bear – they’re going to catch a big one!

On their way they swish swash through a grassy meadow, splish splash through a wide river, squelch squench through thick mud, stumble trip through a dark forest and woo hoo through a snowstorm. It’s a beautiful day and they’re not scared! But when they tiptoe into a dark cave and actually find a bear, they’re terrified and tiptoewoo hoostumble tripsquelch squenchsplish splash and swish swash back home as fast as they can!’

‘The Gruffalo’ by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler is a modern day classic of a journey story.

This picture book tells the story of a brave and clever little mouse on his stroll through the deep dark wood. While walking he meets a fox, an owl and a snake, who each invite him to their house for a meal – because they want to eat him! Each time the little mouse declines politely, saying that he’s going to have tea with a Gruffalo – a monster he has made up – who happens to like to eat that particular creature.

But imagine the little mouse’s surprise when he bumps into a real Gruffalo! The quick-witted mouse tells the Gruffalo that he is actually the scariest animal in the wood and invites the Gruffalo to follow him. When all the other creatures see the mouse and Gruffalo together, they run away terrified. The mouse threatens to eat the Gruffalo, who also runs away, leaving the mouse to eat his nut in peace.

Early Reader to Middle Grade

Hattie and Jacques Love London‘ is one of my own books and is beautifully illustrated by Stephen Ribeiro.

When Hattie a mouse from London England, meets Jacques a mouse from Paris France, a wonderful friendship begins. They join the French au-pair Sophie, and the twins Bobby and Bella on a trip around London. They visit many landmarks and have some adventures on the way.

A very funny story about a mouse called Hattie, who lives in the house of Mr and Mrs Brown and their two children. When a French au pair called Sophie turns up to look after the children a French mouse called Jacques arrives in her suitcase, and soon becomes close friends with Hattie. Since the children become well behaved after Sophie’s arrival the Brown family decide to reward them with a treat and they all go on a tour of London (along with the mice) and visit some of the main attractions.
I liked the storyline and illustrations, especially the one with Jacques climbing on the Buckingham guard’s bearskin hat! The cut out figures and clothes at the back of the book was also a nice feature.

J R Gibson

The Paddington Bear series by Michael Bond and illustrated by a couple of illustrators ( Peggy Fortnum (1919–2016) and  R W Alley since 1997), is a journey of a bear from deepest darkest Peru to London, England.

‘Paddington is a very polite and courageous bear, with an enormous appetite for adventure – and marmalade.

In the very first story, Paddington is adopted by the Brown family after they find him at a railway station in London, sitting on a suitcase with a label round his neck that reads “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” In his new home, Paddington soon becomes a beloved member of the family. Along the way he makes new friends, eats a lot of marmalade sandwiches, and causes plenty of mayhem!

Paddington is often wearing his distinctive hat (given to him by his Uncle Pastuzo) and blue duffle coat. His suitcase always contains a jar of marmalade, and he usually keeps a marmalade sandwich underneath his hat, in case of emergencies!

Originally from Peru, Paddington was brought up by his Aunt Lucy after he was orphaned following an earthquake. When the Browns first meet him at Paddington Station, he explains that he has been sent to England because Aunt Lucy has had to go into the Home for Retired Bears in Lima.

By Matt Brown from London, England – Paddington Bear, all alone, CC BY 2.0,

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe‘ by C. S. Lewis is about a journey into the imaginary world of Narnia. It was originally illustrated by Pauline Baynes.

‘Four English children are relocated to a large, old country house following a wartime evacuation. The youngest, Lucy, visits Narnia three times via the magic of a wardrobe in a spare room. Lucy’s three siblings are with her on her third visit to Narnia. In Narnia, the siblings seem fit to fulfill an old prophecy and find themselves adventuring to save Narnia and their own lives. The lion Aslan gives his life to save one of the children; he later rises from the dead, vanquishes the White Witch, and crowns the children Kings and Queens of Narnia.’,_the_Witch_and_the_Wardrobe, Fair use,

Young Adults

Treasure Island‘ by Robert Louis Stevenson is a classic book of a journey and adventure.

Treasure Island is one of the most famous children’s adventure books of the 19th century. In the story, an innkeeper’s son, Jim, overhears pirates talking about finding an island where there is hidden gold, and goes to tell his local authorities. The authorities and the pirates then race to get to the treasure first, with Jim caught in the middle of their conflict.

This first edition includes a beautiful map of the island in the front of the book.

Around the World in Eighty Days‘ by the French writer Jules Verne was first published in French in 1872. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout’s attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a wager of £20,000 set by his friends at the Reform Club.

In my opinion, this may not be a life-changing book, but it sure will be an eye-opening one. Many people look at the journey as a tiresome activity; something to sleep through; just an extra part of the real activity. But, this book gives us the aesthetics of the journey. In real life, we are like Phileas Fogg, counting numbers till we reach the destination. But, this book shows us through the eyes of Passepartout, the servant, how to utilize the small amount of time.

I would very much recommend this book. This book has great characters to fall in love with, and an adventure filled with tremendous suspense that will keep you on the edge.

By Roke – Self-published work by Roke, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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