Quest by Aaron Becker
Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781406357660.
Highly recommended for readers from 7-10 years. Aaron Becker presents the next visual narrative that takes the reader on a new pursuit in Quest. His previous creative wordless picture book that introduced the child characters was Journey, a Caldecott Honor Book.
Two children are sheltering from the rain under a city park bridge. To their surprise, a king opens a mysterious door and presents the young pair with a map and coloured chalk. He quickly disappears again, dragged away by soldiers. The chalks provide entry into new worlds, and another venture draws the young explorers into a quest to save the king and his kingdom. The boy quickly draws keys to unlock the portal and they step into a new world. The map provides them with colourful clues and leads them through a tropical jungle, past a Mayan temple, and an underground city on their quest to free the king. They are accompanied by a beautiful bird who helps them.
The strength of the story is the visual narrative. Each richly detailed spread, mixes architectural styles from diverse cultures and different centuries. As their quest is fraught with dangers, the children draw on their creativity and problem solving skills to help them overcome the issues. Aaron Becker's detailed watercolours are balanced with his use of white space, this draws the observer into the unfolding drama. Puzzles, maps, colours, creativity and imagination are all elements that make this an engaging and enjoyable story.