The Migrants are a disparate group though they are travelling, en masse, together. We watch them work and bond together, see them stop overnight, and appreciate their connection. Seeking a place of safety and hope unites the Migrants, as does their past. Wherever they have come from has forced them to leave. We know from their white round eyes, pinched mouths and weary stoops that they have experienced too much.

We watch them huddle together as they face the faceless, nameless, characterless body who holds the bag. Money? Trade? His giant stork emphasises the stretch of their journey, while the black backgrounds suggest these travellers seem to lack an existence. They’re anonymous and empty.

What will they suffer, endure? Thereafter, is their somewhere for them? All of them?

Migrants is a challenging, intelligent, wordless picture book, a commentary on the refugee situation, purpose and status. Bookwagon is affected by this book because its theme is depicted so very strongly, creatively and movingly.

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Issa Watanabe

(Gecko Press)– hardback

A band of diverse and weary travellers become the Migrants moving through this wordless picture book. Behind, ahead and throughout them stalks a shrouded, skeletal figure, accompanied by a giant stork. It seems as though the travellers are uncertain of their path and oppressed by their circumstances. They’re leaving the knowledge of home to move to the unknown, facing such uncertainty. Their bright colours and peculiar shapes and forms glint  from black backgrounds.
We realise the mass of migration in a page where the coloured, diverse group face the skeletal trader, wrapped in a bejewelled cloak. While this character is faceless, characterless, each of the travellers faces it with wide, white anxious eyes. The air is heavy with expectation. Thereafter, the journey continues, shoulders sag and worry lines grow. The group grows smaller, while individuals appear to shrink. Where are they headed? What awaits them?
The wordless format is affecting against the black backdrop because it highlights the silent sadness. Like Kate Milner’s My Name is Not Refugee these characters have become anonymised through their circumstances and need.
Migrants is not a comfortable book to read. It is challenging in what it shows and how the message is affected. Furthermore, it is hugely affecting.


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