On our shelves, there is the occasional book which is regarded in such a way that you might not be able to tell, just at first, what a favorite it is. This is the case with The Runaway Dinner. Mariam will often forget to take it down for a long period of time, but sooner or later, it comes off the shelf for another evening and she always seems to love it just as much as she did at first read. It was good at four and it is still great at seven. The Runaway Dinner has staying power.
The Runaway Dinner by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman is the story of a small boy, whose parents have named him "Banjo," and who eats the same supper every night. Every night, that is, until the evening when his sausage leads a dinner-time revolt, resulting in the escape of Banjo's meal, along with his plate and cutlery. Of course, Banjo and his flustered parents give chase, and the result is a picture book that is great fun to look at and even more fun to read. The Runaway Dinner is nonsensical and ridiculous and completely silly. It makes little sense and is full of unlikely events but is so well executed that you hardly notice. It becomes much more appealing to just believe.
I sometimes feel like the desire to be unique through silliness is the curse of the modern day children's author. There are so many books out there that seem so focused on being wacky and different that the important bits, like having a decent story, seem to get lost. This is one of many reasons why I always like Allan Ahlberg's writing so much. Yes, it is silly, but it is also smart and I can't tell you how much I appreciate that distinction.
Oh, and the climactic moment when poor Banjo finally gets hold of his sausage once more and then his mom starts screaming not to eat it because it has been on the ground? Too good.