Books Nomads Homes and Habitats: Restlessness and Refuge Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] An Alphabet Book That Takes You Around The World in Anita Lobel’s “Away From Home”

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Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.


To say that this book is perfect for our current reading theme would be a gross understatement. It seems to have been created with our theme in mind. I am also constantly on the lookout for alphabet books that are ingeniously crafted (see my review of alphabet books with pizzazz here and sinister alphabet books here). This is a wonderful addition to the alphabet books I have featured thus far.


Away From Home

Written and Illustrated by: Anita Lobel
Published by: Greenwillow Books, 1994 ISBN: 0688103545 (ISBN13: 9780688103545)  
Personal copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Similar to the style seen in Edward Gorey’s deliciously-moribund Gashlycrumb Tinies that uses each letter of the alphabet as the first letter of a child’s name who dies frighteningly gruesome deaths, Lobel’s ingeniously-crafted Away From Home follows the same format with each child traveling to a city (good strategy of using cities instead of countries – more options that way) beginning with that particular letter of the alphabet, inviting alliteration and word play – see what happens to Adam and Bernard below:


I also took note of how delightfully multicultural it is – with the use of many children coming from different ethnicities and walks of life playing a starring role in each of the page depicted as a theatrical stage of sorts – the presence of stage hands peeking somewhere on the side of the makeshift stage was particularly alluring.


Recall that this book was published in the 90s – a time when including (what is now perceived mostly as token) characters from all walks of life was fairly uncommon.


What is even more awesome is the afterword that Anita Lobel wrote that indicated which countries these cities are found, and a brief description of the monuments or landmark buildings she used to depict the city.


Would you like to know which country Zachary went to? Then you have to find this book. I also loved how Anita Lobel used the jacketflap of the book to share what inspired her to create this book:

Anita Lobel says, “I have traveled in airplanes and on ships. I have been a refugee. I have been an immigrant. I have been a tourist. I have walked on quiet back streets and squares of foreign cities. I have posed for pictures in front of famous buildings. From theater seats I have floated in imaginary landscapes. I hope this theatrical picture-postcard journey is an invitation to learning more about places far away from home.”

Find this book and share it with your students or children.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] An Alphabet Book That Takes You Around The World in Anita Lobel’s “Away From Home”

  1. annettepimentel

    I love the quote from Anita Lobel at the end the most. I think she was being literal, but it could fit all of us figuratively…”I have been a refugee. I have been an immigrant. I have been a tourist.”


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