Antonia: A Journey to a New Home by Dipacho is the wordless story of a family who experiences loss as leave the home they know to find a new home in a strange land.
A young girl and her family bring the few belongings they can carry and Antonia, the family dog, to the coast where they wait for a boat to come and take them across the ocean. As they wait, other families show up, including two other kids who also have pets — a duck and a bird — and they all play together as the boat arrives and the adults load their items, pets, and children. But the boat is only the beginning, and on the other side of the water they must walk through the brush, where Antonia becomes lost. When it becomes clear they won’t be able to find her before they move on, the child with the bird releases their pet in a show of solidarity and the group moves forward together.
Dipacho cleverly uses the gutter of the book to emphasize the movement in the story: the coast is on the verso page with the water on the recto until they get to the other shore and then it’s flipped, and the brush does the same, letting everyone out into safer surroundings on the recto page after starting on a verso page. As the characters travel through the brush (which extends end-to-end across two full spreads), it literally and metaphorically becomes apparent how easy it is to lose a loved one during such a dangerous journey. "Antonia" is the only spoken word in the book, and the disruption of the wordless story with a bolded, curled scream is hauntingly sad, as is the fact that she continues to look back over her shoulder as the group journeys forward.
Antonia: A Journey to a New Home publishes next Tuesday, September 14 from Mineditionus.
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September 9, 2021 at 10:34AM firstname.lastname@example.org (Mel Schuit)