[Monday Reading] The Art of Running Away From Home in Picturebooks

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

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These three picturebooks deal with one of the many things young children may have had thought of doing at one point in their young lives – running away! Think of this as a crash course on Runaway 101 adding a bit of panache and drama into the mix. I have featured Cloud Nine at one point here for our Black Holes and Parallel Universes reading theme back in 2014, but it is worth revisiting alongside these other themed titles.


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Written by: Norman Silver Illustrated by: Jan Ormerod
Published byThe Bodley Head, 1995 ISBN: 0395735459 (ISBN13: 9780395735459)
Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Armstrong was displeased. His home was filled with constant noise with the TV on loud, his mum’s hoover, the barking dog Chum, his father shouting at Chum for chewing the table leg, and his younger sister Bubbles being, well, Bubbles.

It also does not seem that he could get anything right as he seems to be in the way of everyone else who constantly ask him to just go outside and play there instead.

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And so with a hrrmp, he wore his helmet, and brought all the tools he needs to build a ladder that will lead him higher and higher, farther and farther away from the constant noise and rubble. He built his ladder slowly, one rung at a time, until, not very long after, he reached the heavens.

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With his rope, he managed to lasso a soft cloud – there were eight of them in all, and he flopped comfortably into Cloud Nine. Finally, he found some quiet, a little bit of peace.

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Armstrong is also very certain that he does not miss his family, no sir, not at all – and he articulated this loud and clear to the postman who happened to find him in his cloud who delivered his family’s letter, the pilot in an aeroplane, and even a random mountaineer who told him that his family is looking for him.

I loved the narrative in this short and sweet picturebook, and Ormerod’s beautiful illustrations are reminiscent of her wordless Sunlight and Moonlight with the triptychs, the full-spreads, and the subtle shades of water colour. Whether or not Armstrong finds his way home, I shall leave for you to discover. Teachers who wish to use this in the classroom may want to consider pairing this with David Wiesner’s Sector 7 which Fats has reviewed here. If you wish to do a cloud activity with your students, here is a downloadable PDF link by ket.org of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Loula Is Leaving for AfricaIMG_1112

Written and Illustrated by: Anne Villeneuve
Published by: Kids Can Press, 2013 ISBN: 1554539412 (ISBN13: 9781554539413) Book Awards: OLA Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award Nominee (2015)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Similar to Armstrong above, Loula is also very displeased with her “three MEAN, HORRIBLE, STINKY brothers.” The all-caps should already give you an indication of just how unhappy she is. Loula’s had enough.

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After making sure that she has packed her absolute essentials (just three of them, really: her cat, her tea set, best drawing), she announced to members of her family that she is leaving for Africa. I love how her thespian mother and her artist father responded to this strange proclamation. It was Gilbert, the family chauffeur, who gave Loula very sound suggestions on how to reach Africa – he has a map, after all!

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Sometimes all it takes is one adult to inhabit a young girl’s reality, and transform Africa from a tree to a little island in the park. Oftentimes, adults are way too literal and matter of fact and dismissive when all it takes is a hop and a skip and you get to see the sunset in ‘Africa.’

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While a critical multicultural analysis of this picturebook might highlight the privileged perspective of this young girl, I prefer to see it from the angle of nurturing a child’s spirit and making the impossible happen when make-believe is perceived as real. Parents and teachers would be happy to note that this is the first book in a series of Loula titles that you can check out and share with young readers.


IMG_1117The Beginner’s Guide To Running Away From Home

Written by: Jennifer Larue Huget Illustrated by: Red Nose Studio
Published bySchwartz & Wade Books, 2013 ISBN: 0375967397 (ISBN13: 9780375967399)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

While the first two titles seem to have a haphazard approach to running away, this book would set a young reader straight by providing the nuts and bolts of how exactly to carry out a successful runaway (misad)venture. As this young boy points out, the first thing you need is a reason.

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See. This reason seems perfectly legit, if you ask me. Second step is packing your essentials. I think what Armstrong and Loula missed out on is the writing of the note, said to be the most important part of the whole process according to this beginner’s guide, that is:

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Deciding where you will stay, though, is the tricky part. There are just way too many options – and most of them fairly unacceptable. Stopping for a snack is always a good thing to clear your mind, but don’t expect your parents to come looking for you, because chances are they may not even have noticed that you are gone.

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But of course when nighttime comes along with unsavoury creatures lurking in the dark, perhaps it would be easier to pack your bags again and give your folks another chance – you can collect more candy wrappers anyway.

Red Nose Studio makes me wonder at the future of picturebooks with this kind of animated 3d art. Quite ingenious, really.

Currently Reading…

I am back home in Singapore! Woohoo!

It has been a wonderful ten weeks in Europe, but I am truly gratified to be back home in my own bed with my family around me. My time in Europe has been most productive as can be seen in the number of books I managed to read so far:

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Now that deserves a woot-woot indeed! I also need to read eight more books for the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge. This week, I hope to finish the following titles:

I started reading Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa on my flight from Munich to Singapore. It has been crazy for me with four airplanes in two days (Madrid-Munich, Munich-Amsterdam, Amsterdam-Mumbai, Mumbai-Singapore) – and so reading a book has kept me sane for the most part.

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I took this photo in my attempt to capture the fire in the skies over Amsterdam at ten in the evening. I will also attempt to read High-Rise by J. G. Ballard for our Saturday Night Out for Book Geeks book club discussion for this weekend. Wish me luck!

  1. I’ve had Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter forever but have yet to read it. Happy Reading and safe travels!

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  2. You are the reading whiz, Myra! Love hearing about these books, remember my brother running away one time, packed a suitcase and trudged up the block! Even as an older man he will appreciate these! I enjoyed seeing about your travel and stay, but imagine you’re glad to be home too.

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  3. What a fun theme! And the number of books you’ve read so far this year makes me look like a slacker!

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  4. Fun coincidence – I have a running away from home book on my list this week too. Maybe I’ll pair it with the Beginner’s Guide. Thanks!

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  5. Such a fun selection of books – haven’t we all dreamed of running away from it all, even as grown-ups?

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  6. The theme of running away seems to mostly connect to children, but I can remember, as a mother of young children, when the idea of running away seemed like a darn good idea, even if it was for only a day or so. I adored Loula is Leaving for Africa and now want to read The Beginner’s Guide to Running Away from home.

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  7. Welcome back home! Oh my goodness–those illustrations of The Beginner’s Guide To Running Away From Home are hysterical.

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  8. That’s a terrific theme! Lots of kids want to run away I know I sure did! I’ve put all of these on my To Read List, and hopefully I’ll get to them one day soon! Have a great week; glad you’re glad to be back in Singapore!

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  9. A couple of new-to-me PBs this week–thank you! Definitely looking for these.

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