May 11, 2017

FATHER'S ROAD

Originally published three years ago in Korea, Father's Road, written by Ji-yun Jang and illustrated by Tan Jun, tells readers the fictionalized story of Wong Chung, a young boy who joins his father's caravan and set out on the first of many journeys along the Silk Road.


Through the boy's eyes, we as readers experience what it must have been like to travel the Silk Road, encountering sandstorms, bandits, and thirst. And that's just on the way there. The back matter is highly informative, breaking down the countries along the Silk Road, providing key terms, and offering a perspective on the pros and cons of global exchange. We learn not just about the perils of physically traveling the road, but of the dangers that come with introducing cultures: while the Silk Road brought new goods, religions, and philosophical ideas, it also brought diseases and death. Father's Road holds no punches as it takes us from one city to the next.


The illustrations are incredible. They appear as pen and ink illustrations on parchment paper, so there's a vintage look about them that technique hearkens back to the soft artwork from the Han dynasty (albeit more muted). It furthers the authenticity of the story and the visual narrative. Jun makes a point of using his color palette to express the atmosphere of the journey, but though there are bright colors throughout to match the boy's enthusiasm, the overall muted tones remind readers of the somber fact that this story is rooted in history and carries a much larger message about discovery and bravery.


Father's Road published from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers in February.