November Picture Book MonthNovember is Picture Book Month! I participated in it’s inaugural year in 2012, skipped it in 2013, but now I’m back and hopefully staying ahead and on top of all the themes, discussions, and promotions regarding picture books. You can find a calendar of suggested themes and author/illustrators for the entire month. First up today is a look at Aaron Becker’s newest picture book. Some of you might remember my look at his Caldecott Honor debut. Quest continues the story and the wordless format that got him previously recognized. Stay tuned for more picture books as we celebrate.

Quest BeckerTitle: Quest
Series: Journey Trilogy #2
Author/Illustrator: Aaron Becker
ISBN: 9780763665951
Pages: unnumbered
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2014.

The boy and girl from the Caldecott Honor winning book Journey are back in the second wordless book in the trilogy. This time, they are approached by a mysterious man, who has only enough time to thrust an orange crayon and a map at them before whisked back into the world he came from. Following his capture, the duo discover themselves on a quest to claim the rainbow and save the king. From the depths of the sea to the forests and mountains, they have to be careful to avoid the king’s captors who are pursuing their every move.

The panoramic views of the lands are stunning, with the castles and temples reminding me of David Macaulay’s work. However, the pictures of the kids working together and drawing escape plans are jarring when not placed in context with the beautiful background landscapes that capture the readers imagination through the rest of the story. The first time it happens it at least can be justified because it’s focusing on them. The subsequent times however you can’t see what they are drawing on and it pulled me out of the story as if the artist ran out of time instead of what I can only assume was an intentional decision. It looks like the characters stumbled into some free fall and are drawing things out of thin air (pardon the pun).

Readers also don’t witness any rationale behind the other locations where the other items are searching for are being kept. The plot seems a little sketchy. There’s the captured king and his subjects, the evil guy from the first book and his minions, and the two kids. These items they’re recovering seem to have some significance for the various cultures they are found in, but we don’t see the people the items should be attached to. The ending also goes unexplained, and while older kids might be interested in narrating and forming their own conclusions, some others might feel just as confused as I am when asked “What happened?” Obviously this book is too abstract for my personal tastes. Does anyone else prefer Journey over Quest?