BooksForKidsBlog

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lad on the Lam: Alfie Runs Away by Kenneth M. Cadow

Alfie's had it with the home front. Baths are a bore, and bed making is a drag. But that's all tolerable until mom makes one impossible demand:

BUT NOW THINGS HAD GONE TOO FAR.

MOM WANTED TO THROW AWAY HIS FAVORITE SHOES!

"I'M RUNNING AWAY!" ALFIE DECLARES.

Mom means well. She points out that Alfie has just outgrown those great red sneakers, and they're only going to get tighter until he gives them up. But Alfie loves those shoes. Sometimes a guy just has to take charge of the situation. Alfie grabs his blanket and little pillow and declares his independence.

Mom is only too helpful.

"IF YOU RUN AWAY, YOU MIGHT GET THIRSTY" SAID HIS MOTHER. "WOULD YOU LIKE A WATER BOTTLE WITH NICE COLD WATER?"

Mom loads Alfie up with gear--a flashlight and extra batteries, a jar of peanut butter and some crackers, a box of raisins, which Alfie rejects, his beloved Buddy Bear for company, some books for entertainment,and a big bag to put all his stuff in.

"MAY I GIVE YOU A HUG?" ASKED HIS MOTHER.

"YOU MAY LET ME KEEP MY SHOES," SAID ALFIE.

"I'LL PUT A HUG IN THE BAG," SAID HIS MOTHER, AND SHE PUT HER ARMS IN THE BAG.

"YOU'RE BEING SILLY," SAID ALFIE. "GOODBYE."


Alfie can hardly carry it all, but he manages to haul his bulging bag to a secluded part of the back yard, where things follow the predictable script. Alfie enjoys his freedom, his books, and when he gets hungry, his peanut butter crackers. The warm day passes pleasantly enough, although Alfie's toes are beginning to feel a bit blistery inside his red shoes. Then the sun moves behind the house, and in the growing shadows Alfie feels a bit chilly. His thoughts turn to snuggling with Buddy in his own bed. On a whim, he checks his bag for the hug. Nothing. Then Alfie has a brainstorm.

HE LOOKED AT BUDDY BEAR.

"DON'T WORRY. WE DON'T HAVE TO RUN AWAY FOREVER.

THOSE SHOES WILL NEVER GET TOO SMALL FOR YOU."

Impasse solved. Kenneth M. Cadow's new Alfie Runs Away (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010) catches a moment of compromise in growing up with a main character who comes up with a wonderful conflict resolution. Fitting those red shoes snugly on Buddy Bear's feet, Alfie heads for the house where his mom is just coming out to finally deliver her hug in person. It's a warm and appealing story, ably amplified by Lauren Castillo's soft illustrations of the steadfast Alfie and the deadpan Buddy Bear, charmingly reminiscent of both Bernard Waber's classic Ira Sleeps Over (Live Oak Readalong) and A. A. Milne's Christopher Robin stories.

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