Escape: One Day We Had to Run… by Ming and Wah Chen and illustrated by Carmen Vela recounts true stories of people escaping injustices across the world throughout history.

The book is structured like an encyclopedia, with each spread focused on a single word and real-life historical experience, and there’s an accompanying block of text that describes the harrowing incident and how the word encapsulates the described experience. With words like cling, disguise, flee, and stowaway, each of the twelve words deftly captures the dangerous energy of each situation.

Vela’s digital illustrations utilize blocks of color, steering clear of most textures, patterns, and outlines. This avoidance of strict definition helps readers connect to the characters upon first glance because there’s something instantly relatable right there on the page (hair color, landscape, clothing, family shown, skin color, etc.). Though readers may not have experienced anything like what they read about in the stories, Vela gives characters indistinct features that are often obscured in some way (we see someone from a distance, behind, or with with hands covering part of their face) to encourage readers to find parts of themselves in the characters they read about on the page.

Escape: One Day We Had to Run… published earlier this month from Lantana Publishing.

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May 27, 2021 at 10:33AM (Mel Schuit)