“Migrants is deeply emotional, unsentimental, dignified, respectful, beautiful. It is about courage, getting up, continuing on, starting again. It demands full emotional attention and makes us want to read it again and again.”

Julia Marshall


Migrants is a vital and powerful wordless picture book of courage, loss and hope—the definitive story of what it takes to migrate to a new land

Illustrated by Issa Watanabe


  • Description

    This book narrates, with extraordinarily powerful images, the journey of a group of animals that leaves behind a leafless, nocturnal forest. It is the story of a great and unique migration, a journey where borders must be crossed, sacrifices made, loved ones left behind.

    With forceful simplicity, Migrants shows us the courage migration takes. Death looms throughout the journey. And arriving may mean burying a portion of the past.

  • Book Details

    Country of Origin México
    Reader Age 0-2 year, 2-5 year, 5-7 year
    Book Size

  • Reviews

    1. Poetry Box

      The illustrations are breathtaking. You feel them to the core. Each character is lovingly brought to life. You feel the story of a group of migrants to the core. There is heartbreak and there is hope.
      Migrants is an important book and is so very special. It gathers words and it is beyond words.

    2. Youth Services Book Review

      This is a conceptual book, loaded with symbolism. Every page is somber and dark, which reinforces the seriousness of the animals’ predicament, but also throws their colorful feathers and fur into sharp relief…The amount of detail is astounding and the quality of the artwork is very high. The eeriness of the setting and the sadness of the animals’ predicament is profound.

    3. 100 Scope Notes, School Library Journal

      Wordless, finely detailed, and powerful.

    4. Booktrailers4kidsandYA

      Migrants is a stunning wordless picture book…It is a book which will encourage discussion about what it means to be a refugee and the terrible journey many people have had to endure…It is powerful. The artwork is nothing short of stunning and each and every page could hang in a gallery and perhaps it should, so we are reminded just how lucky we are.

    5. Asset Reading Advocate

      Migrants is an intensely powerful wordless picture book that captures the hope, courage and loss of a group of migrants. Incredibly beautiful and poignant, my words cannot do justice to the message of this important book.

    6. Nic Book Panda

      this is one of those amazingly simple yet powerful children’s books that adults and children alike can appreciate.⁣..This will make a beautiful and important addition to your collection of children’s books! Highly recommend⁣.

    7. ReadPlus

      Highly recommended. The illustrations are stunning, portraying a group of people as animals, finding their way in the dark, unsignposted, sheltering where they can in the trees and on the beach. The black colour is continued throughout the book, giving an ominous, portentous and foreboding overlay to the outcome of these migrants. Readers cannot help but reflect on the images they have seen on the nightly news, seeing parallels in Watanabe’s images, so powerfully portrayed.
      This is not an easy book to read, throwing up images of people like you and me finding themselves in situations where they must flee. We follow their journey with wet eyes.

    8. Red Reading Hub

      Issa Watanabe has created without a single word, one of the most harrowing portrayals of migration I’ve seen in a book.
      With her characters standing out starkly against the constant black backdrop, each illustration captures the determination and dignified demeanour of the travellers; yet, she leaves space for readers to do some of the interpretation themselves.
      Truly a visual tour-de-force, albeit one that leaves us feeling raw and tearful.

    9. Miriam Jessie

      It is profound, complex and moving…In a world that often answers children with shallow responses or overwhelms with explicit details this book walks between the tension. It is sad, haunting, tender and gut wrenching but it leaves the reader to draw conclusions.This book is an excellent example of why picture books are for all ages and art is important in the world.

    10. Publisher’s Weekly

      Watanabe captures with grace both dignity and determination, and the brilliance of her art’s hues against a velvety black backdrop gives the somber spreads great visual power.

    11. Library Mice

      A beautiful, powerful silent narrative.

    12. Sophie Van den Linden

      This is a story about migration, a story about the threat of death and the danger of migration. The story brings this danger to the table with an incredible aesthetic—colour over a very high-pitched black. It includes a character who is a symbol of Death. Though at a distance from the animals, it follows them throughout their journey. There is also a sense of displacement, of movement, of living, which opposes Death. It is only when the animals look back that they realise what they have lost.

    13. Kirkus, Starred Review

      It’s a rare feat: a wordless picture book in which the absence of text intensifies the stories it tells. With its stark dearth of color, seen only where necessary, and evocative imagery, the artist’s pictures make the migrant’s journey — distinct yet everyday — feel palpable. A raw, startling portrait of migration.

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