Depending on how old your children are – you might have heard those familiar words…”I am so ___ I’m going to run away from home!” Am I right? And, if you are a grandparent, like I am, I feel certain that you just might have heard them, at least once. And…quite possibly…you said them to your parents.
While the books that we are talking about today are both about running away – they handle the subject matter differently – which is nice – because one book doesn’t always fit everyone’s situation/child, etc. However…and this is a spoiler…the child does come home in both books!
And, I can’t really tell you which is MY favorite, because I like them both, but they are very different.
Let’s talk about them.
The Beginner’s Guide to Running Away From Home by Jennifer Larue Huget I feel will apply to an older child (both books have an age guideline of 4-8). The illustrations by the Red Nose Studio are edgy, offbeat and definitely not what I would associate with a children’s book. But, for today’s generation of digital natives, who are already “iPading and iPhoning” practically before they can walk – I think they have real appeal.
The story is told by a middle child who is surely feeling all the weight of that position in the family – left out! This boy has had it with lack of attention, unfair treatment, you name it. He decides he will show his family – and while he is showing them, he’s been nice enough to write it all down in a guide so that others will know the ropes. He shows you how to plan your escape, what to take with you, and why, and possible places to escape to.
In the end, of course, he realizes that, indeed, there is no place like home and his mother welcomes him with a big hug. But, that doesn’t stop him from refining his running away technique!
Loula is leaving for Africa by Anne Villeneuve is, to me, a slightly more gentle story about running away. And…she does it in style with a chauffeur, Gilbert, to guide her and keep her safe. Aah, Loula leads a very privileged life, but it’s her three “MEAN, HORRIBLE, STINKY” brothers that are driving her crazy! She does leave and goes off to have a wonderful, magical adventure to “Africa.” Gilbert shows her that imagination and ingenuity can take the place of long distance travel.
Her frustrations dealt with, at least for one day, Loula proclaims that she is tired and Gilbert, of course, takes her home.
The illustrations give this book a slightly retro feel, and you will be forgiven if you think for a moment that they remind you of Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline books. They are THE perfect complement and I hope that this is a story that you will enjoy reading with your little ones! It will remind us all to stop and take time with our little ones – they won’t be little forever.