Title: Joy’s Journey

Author: Jacinta Farragher

Illustrator: Manka Kasha

Publisher: Little Steps Publishing 

Themes: Self-love, self- belief, self-discovery, happiness, finding joy in the journey, gratitude, adventure, seasons, animals, habitats and mindfulness.

Publication date: March 3, 2022

Additional notable information:

Joy’s Journey is an uplifting story of adventure and discovery, both literally and figuratively as well as the empowering realisation that the ability to achieve your dreams is within you.

Enticed by the desire to find a mysterious, magical place with a teacher who is “strong and kind and wise”, a destination where once it is found guarantees all of your wishes come true, sees Joy set off on a quest to explore and discover this paradise. Joy traverses rich and varied landscapes through different seasons. She leans into what the unknown may present, embraces opportunities and is fearless on her travels. 

Joy sets off with enthusiasm and a glint in her eye, ready for adventure. As she travels through the seasons she observes her surroundings, looking for clues that may lead to her destination, all while experiencing the goodness the different places have to offer. Joy swims in pristine blue waters and plays in stunning forests with exquisite picturesque backdrops including cascading waterfalls gushing over cliffs dotted with pops of colourful flowers. She explores snow-capped mountains and finds serenity in fields and gardens exploding with colour in springtime. Each new season sees her meet different animals. She encounters a pink pelican that encourages her to explore a cave, perhaps the magic land could be in there. She befriends a deer in the forest and together they play and delight in nature’s gifts. In the hostile winter, a goat becomes a much needed companion who guides Joy to a path that leads to a warm, lush, green valley. Finally, a bold and beautiful butterfly catches her attention and she follows the fluttering butterfly which leads to her final destination … where she does indeed find the teacher she has been searching for.

Joy did experience magical places, more than she dared to dream and in each place she made a special friend and that teacher…she is with Joy all along, as she realises she possesses the values and qualities in the teacher she is searching for. Through this adventure she learns that she is indeed strong and kind and wise and she can achieve great things beyond her wildest dreams.

This story is told in beautiful rhyming verse and is accompanied by bold and vibrant illustrations full of life and light. These images illuminate the pages and aptly exude utter joy while bringing the text to life. The character of Joy is captured in the most charming way – she appears in bright rainbow coloured clothing and her sense of adventure, warm personality and playful attitude shine through as readers observe the way Joy engages with the world.

This book lends itself to so many rich discussion topics about journeys, the different types and benefits that come from one. The story could also lead to conversations about how one may grow on a journey. This book explores the sense of joy and accomplishment that can be achieved while exploring new places and the importance of being open to experiences and possibilities – the majestic, the hard and the surprising – in all of them there are lessons. This story highlights the message that there is beauty and power in the journey, not just the destination.  Travelling and going on an adventure is no mean feat, it requires courage, flexibility, humanity, creativity, determination, resilience and resourcefulness. In any journey there may be bumps, twists and turns along the way and challenges to be overcome. It is in this unpredictable journey that Joy, with a grateful heart and positive mindset, discovers her strengths. This physical journey makes her acutely aware of those strengths and she is awakened to her precious unique qualities, these are core to her identity. The text and illustrations also explore different landscapes and these could be discussed further.

Joy’s Journey could be enjoyed while exploring the 2022 CBCA Book Week theme, ‘Dreaming with eyes open….’.  Children could be challenged to create a magical paradise (it could even be set in a different time period or place, for example the future in outer space) and consider different modes of transport to reach this place. Children could consider items they would need to bring in a backpack with them (these could be existing pieces or imagined ones) and consider what the journey to this place may teach them about themselves.

This empowering story shares an important and uplifting message about finding joy in a journey, whether this is a physical, inner or imaginative one.

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