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The Runaway Dinner

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About the Author

Allan Ahlberg is one of he most acclaimed and successful authors of children's books. He is the author of THE SNAIL HOUSE, illustrated by Gillian Tyler; THE CAT WHO GOT CARRIED AWAY and THE CHILDREN WHO SMELLED A RAT, both illustrated by Katharine McEwen; HALF A PIG, illustrated by his daughter, Jessica Ahlberg; and THE SHOPPING EXPEDITION, illustrated by Andre Amstutz. Allan Ahlberg lives in Bath, England. Bruce Ingman is the award-winning children's book illlustrator of BOING!, written by Sean Taylor, and the author-illustrator of BAD NEWS! I'M IN CHARGE! Bruce Ingman lives in London.


PreS-Gr 3-When Banjo Cannon sits down to dinner, his sausage (named Melvin) jumps off the plate and runs away. The kitchen furniture, cutlery, peas, French fries, carrots, the famished boy, and his parents follow out the door in "Gingerbread Man" fashion. The chase continues down the street and through a park where a duck eats Paul the pea, two fries sail away in a toy boat, and a picnicking family grabs the fork and knife. Just when Banjo catches up with Melvin, his mom yells, "Don't eat that, it's been on the ground!" The surreal adventures are relayed in a droll, conversational style with casual asides ("Now here's the exciting part, the unbelievable part-though it is all true"). Ingman's acrylic illustrations, done in muted tones, combine detailed panoramic scenes and fully fleshed-out characters with pen-and-ink outline sketches. The naive drawings of the stick-legged sausage and his fellow runaways will elicit giggles. This fast-paced yarn is full of kooky charm.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

With a plot timed faster than fast food and illustrations that keep pace, this picture book about a dinner that literally runs away is a comic treat. Like a cowboy spinning a fireside tall tale as if it were true, Ahlberg's (The Jolly Postman) unseen narrator sprinkles the story with plenty of droll asides. Just as the boy hero, Banjo, is about to cut into his supper, "the sausage Melvin, his name was / jumped, yes, jumped, right up off the plate.../ and ran away." Melvin the sausage leads a procession of sorts: "the fork ran after the sausage,/ the knife ran after the fork," followed by the boy's plate, table and chair, as well as his side dishes, all of which have individual names except for the French fries (because "well, there really were too many to name all of them"). Ingman (Boing!) adds plenty of slapstick humor to this great chase. The salt and ketchup containers ride atop the table waving to the crowd as if they were in a parade, and a boiled egg from a nearby picnic looks on in horror as Banjo gains on the sausage. Playful use of type size and white space speeds up and slows down the action accordingly. Finally, Banjo sits down to enjoy his dessert a plum pie ("named Joyce on this particular occasion"), who jumps up and, well,... this sure-to-be a runaway favorite begins again. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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