The Five Elements of Story

Despite it’s lack of words the children’s picture book Journey, published in 2014 and written by Aaron Becker, still has the five elements needed to tell a good story. Given the Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award by New York Times Book Review, it’s one of my favorites, and I’ve read it with quite a few children in my day job as a Special Education Instructional Assistant at Leo Politi Elementary School/LAUSD.

After the library clerk, at Leo Politi, recommended it to me I bought it from for my own personal library. Recently I’ve discovered there are two more books in the series, Quest and Return. Throughout all of my reading sessions, with the book, one of the most amazing things I’ve learned is that without the words the reader has to read the story themselves through the illustrations.

SETTING: The lonely girl’s bedroom in her apartment.

CHARACTERS: A lonely girl’s family: a mother, father, and older sister. The lonely girl’s cat. The soldiers at the castle. The gondoliers and their passengers. An Emperor. A purple bird. The purple bird’s captors. A little boy who later befriends the lonely little girl.

PLOT: The lonely girl desperately wants someone to play with. When she can’t find anyone she takes a red marker and draws a door on her bedroom wall. After she enters the door a magical land awaits. Alone, industrious, armed with her trusty marker then captured by the evil Emperor she learns what it is to be brave, kind, and finally befriended.

CONFLICT: External (The lonely girl’s environment-a large unfriendly city and a busy family. In the magical land it’s a powerful emperor.) Internal (The lonely girl’s loneliness, lack of self-confidence, and fear.)

THEME: Kindness can set you free.

Photo by Pixabay on

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