The Road Home is a poignant, poetic picture book written by Katie Cotton and illustrated by Sarah Jacoby about survival in the wild that has a universal feel. With the repeated refrain, "This road is hard, this road is long, this road that leads us home," Cotton and Jacoby tell the story of a mouse and her child, a wolf and her child, a rabbit and her child and a bird and her child as they travel the road home. Jacoby's illustrations are stark at times, yet with a softness that captures the beauty of the natural world. Add to this the natural patterns that occur in the illustrations that mirror those of the text, and The Road Home comes together in an unforgettable way.
Neither words nor illustrations hide the realities of the story being told. The open mouth of the wolf who hunts, "through light and shade," with, "claws to grip and jaws to bite and prey is close nearby" is here. The struggle of the rabbits who move through, "tangled trees and thorns that grasp our coats," while the air is, "cold and sharp as ice. It chills our trembling throats," is on the page, yet the thorny branches have a gentle pattern on the page and small, red buds appear on some of them.
The animals survive the night, comfort finding them, "safe and sound, tucked in cozy deep," where they, "curl up close, lost in leaves, lost in velvet sleep." The sun rises on them and their day, and their struggles, begin again. But, though the road is long, "we are not alone. For you are here, and I'm with you . . . and so this road is home." The final words of The Road Home, unlike all the others, are not in italics, giving them a sense of permanence, and finality. These animals will always be moving forward, but they will be moving together.
Source: Review Copy