Review: Migrations

BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations

Book Title: Migrations (available here)

Author/Illustrator: Various (edited by The International Centre for the Picture Book in Society)

Publisher: Otter Barry Books

Publication Date: May 2019

Most Suitable for: KS1 & KS2

Reviewed By: Jane Carter, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education

This is a unique book that brings together the thoughts and reflections of children’s picture book illustrators from across the world who have responded to a call for their reflection in the form of illustration and word, on ‘Migration’. Illustrators sent these in postcard form and they were exhibited in 2017, a selection of which make up this book.

It is a beautiful book with each double page spread showing each side of the postcard. Even the end pages are stunning – with words and picture from Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane. The book is cleverly divided into sections: departures, long journeys, arrivals and hope for the future, which provides a useful structure for teachers to begin to support their class in thinking about migration.

The focus is the parallels drawn between the migration of birds and people and Shaun Tan expertly introduces this theme, writing that ‘All migration is an act of imagination, a flight of imagination.’ The following illustrations are quite stunning. There is an astonishing mixture of styles: from printed birds, to collage birds from fine etching to bold painted colours and from the abstract interpretations to the almost photographic representations of birds in flight. Each illustration expresses quite distinctively the illustrators interpretation of migration. Each is accompanied by a copy of the envelope or reverse side of the postcard, showing the different stamps and postmarks from the home countries of the contributors. Here you can also find their reflections and words of wisdom, varying from simple messages of hope to short poems.

It feels impossible to read this book without lingering on favourite pictures, words that go straight to your heart and the powerful combinations of words and pictures. There seem to be endless possibilities for the use of this book. It might be as simple as finding a favourite bird; locating the different countries that the illustrators come from; analysing the techniques used to create the pictures; reflecting on the messages and responding in our own way to ‘Migrations’. The book is called ‘Migrations. Open Hearts. Open Borders’ and it certainly opened my heart.


You can order Migrations online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Jane for reviewing it.


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