Home in the Sky Essay

The title of this book is called ‘Home in the Sky’ and it is illustrated and told in a picture book form. The author is Jeanie Baker and it is published in 2001. The Author of this picture book, Jeanie Baker, was born in England on the 2nd November 1950. Her occupation is an author and illustrator of children’s picture books but she is famously known for her collages she makes. Her work focuses on a wide range of contemporary issues including; family, society, sustainability, the environment, urban spaces, Australian outback and wildlife.

What influenced her to write this picture book was her imagination and dream of wanting to travel and fly over New York, hence the title ‘Home in the Sky’. The story tells of a person who lets pigeon out of the coop every morning until he calls them back home for breakfast but one morning, a white pigeon flies away and doesn’t come back. His journey takes him across New York City, experiencing a little of this and that. The idea conveyed about journeys is illustrated throughout the novel by the scattered birds on the cover and in the book which symbolises the idea of birds always travelling and wondering off into their own world in the sky.

The colours used on the front cover have a mix of light blue and white at different splotches which could mean that throughout the bird’s journey, there may be good and bad encounters, depending on where they fly to. Inside the book, it shows more birds flying but this time, it’s in hole straight line which creates a pathway into one’s eyes, making it seem like a path to follow that never ends (due to the use of the continuous birds getting smaller and smaller, across the page).

The main theme of this picture book is more on the physical journey because it talks about a pigeon’s journey while flying across New York. It is related to the pigeon actually flying and experiencing different things along the way such as fighting with street pigeons for food, getting stuck in a train, adopted and flying through places which are unfamiliar. It is conveyed clearly by making the pigeon white while the others grey and illustrating it on an angle where it is clearly seen to be flying away while the others are gathered around the man for food (referring to the cover).

It can also be said as a vector line because it directs the reader’s gaze and adds to the idea of a flowing journey. This conveys that the journey does not end there, and will be moving from place to place. Also, with the use of different backgrounds and landscapes in the picture book which creates a sense of visiting different destination and what the pigeon encounters along the way. One page shows a park with a beautiful weather and lots of people loitering around. On another page, it changes into a cloudy weather with rain drops scattered around the page.

The colour is also very dull and boring which gives us the scene of a not so good part of its journey. A lot of the destinations the bird passed are very different and this tells us that the bird’s journey is not that simple. Another visual feature that links to the physical journey is the author’s name on the front cover of the picture book. It is locate under the title in the middle which kind of blends in with the title because of the exact same colour and font used.

This gives an impression that the author herself has some connection with the pigeons and the sky, due to the colour. It could have meant that the author has travelled somewhere up high n the sky and experienced a journey quite similar to the pigeons, from the way the name is surrounded by lots of scattered pigeons. The use of words inside the picture book also relates to physical journey. The repetition of the sentence ‘Where are you going, Light (home pigeon)? … ‘Where will you go now? ’ … ‘Where will you go now, Light? ’ … ‘Where did you go? is constantly similarly repeated throughout the novel, telling the reader that the home pigeon did indeed go to a lot of places that are not known to the characters inside the picture book, creating a sense of mystique. These all link the responder to assume that it is a physical nature of the journey. The journey is both metaphorical and literal. In terms of metaphorical, ‘Home in the Sky’ does not literally mean the pigeons live n the sky or have homes in the sky. It gives the responder a sense that the sky is where the pigeons love to be and where the pigeons will be at most of the times.

It implies metaphorically that the pigeon’s journey is in the sky, creating some imagination for the responder. It is literal with the context of the picture book. It talks about a pigeon’s journey and what it encounters which is literally what it really does; a physical journey that leads back to its home. For example it states that he ‘Light (the pigeon) lands on the gound and tries to share the scraps some street pigeons have found. But the street pigeons screech and peck, and snatch the food from him’. There is a diagram that shows this on the right, bottom had page.

There is a big contrast with the colours of the street pigeon and the home pigeon because of the darkness used in the street pigeon and the lightness used in the home pigeon. We can clearly see that the 3 street pigeons are attacking the home pigeon because of the way it is drawn. The creamy background colour is also a contrast to the street pigeon but it is not really a contrast to the home pigeon. This can be due to the author trying to make the home pigeon look very weak and kind of blend in with the background.

Throughout the picture book, we learn that although a journey has ended, a new one will always begin again and be totally different. This can be seen near the end of the picture book when the hoe pigeon flies finishes its journey around New York City and begins a new again the next day but in another person’s perspective/view. The picture book gives us a sense of a cyclical impression of a journey that will never end. It is similar to Margaret Atwood’s poem ‘Journey to the Interior’ in which she asks herself ‘have I been walking around in circles again? This is seen in the illustrated graphics shown on nearly each of the picture book page of the birds flying in a line that seems to fade but still is continuing. Also, the first few page states “Every morning, before feeding time, Mike Lets the pigeons out of their coop… When Mike whistles, the pigeons know it is time to come back for breakfast and they fly home”. This gives the responder the thought that it happens every day, therefore it is like a cyclical procedure. Therefore, this picture book written by Jeanie Baker does relate to the theme ‘Journey’, either physically, metaphorically or literally.