Escape to anywhere

We sometimes think of reading as a form of escapism. But many stories, including those in picture books, feature an escape as part of the complication or resolution.

It doesn’t require much thought to create a list. Here are just a few to start:

#6 Traditional stories

By Charles Perrault, Harry Clarke (ill.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Jack and the Beanstalk – Jack escapes from the giant

Hansel and Gretel – the children escape from the witch

Snow White – escapes death ordered by the jealous queen

The Three Pigs – escape from the Big Bad Wolf

The Lion and the Mouse – the mouse helps the lion escape the hunter’s trap

The Gingerbread Man – escapes from the oven and those who pursue him

I had a little more difficulty in finding modern tales involving an escape, but here are a few:

#6 Modern tales

Hey, I Love You! by Ian Whybrow – father and son mouse escape the claws of the cat

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson – the mouse uses his wiles to escape being eaten

Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughan – Wombat’s friends help him escape being Dingo’s dinner

Fox and Fine Feathers by Narelle Oliver – with the help of the nightjar the birds escape being a feast for fox

Run, Hare, Run! The story of a drawing by John Winch – the rabbit has numerous attempts at escaping the hunter but is caught, and finally freed

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen – the family escapes from the bear encountered in a cave

A new favourite

This Mo Willems story is an innovation on the traditional tale of Goldilocks escaping from the three bears. In Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, Goldilocks has a lucky escape out the back door just as the dinosaurs return home through the front door. Willems concludes his story with two morals, one for the dinosaurs:

Lock the back door!

And one for Goldilocks:

If you ever find yourself in the wrong story: leave.

What a great philosophy that we could perhaps employ more often. If we don’t like where we’re at, just leave. Life’s decisions are not always that easy though.

I rather like the idea of characters appearing in the wrong story. What a great topic for discussion with children and a wonderful stimulus for their writing.

  • What if the Big Bad Wolf knocked on the Giant’s door?
  • What if the Three Pigs chased the Gingerbread Man?
  • What if Goldilocks came to the house of Red Riding Hood’s grandma?
  • What if?

In fact, Nick Bland has written a story that utilises this concept. In The Wrong Book, Nicholas Ickle tries to tell his story but keeps getting interrupted by other characters such as an elephant, monsters, a queen and a pirate. Nicholas tells them that they are in the wrong book and to go away. By the time they leave, we get to the end of the book and there is no time for him to tell his story.

But what if the story characters didn’t want to be in the book at all, and decide to escape? How would they escape? What would the writers do if their characters revolted and walked off the job?

I’m thinking about escapes this week as Charli Mills has challenged the Carrot Ranch Literary Community, to In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an escape artist. It can even be you, the writer, escaping into a different realm or space in imagination. It can be any genre, including BOTS (based on a true story) or fantasy. You can focus on the escape, the twist or the person who is the escape artist.

Where could I escape to if not picture books? Here’s my contribution. I hope you like it.

Let’s get out of here

Delaying the inevitable, she was picking wildflowers when she heard sobbing. She gasped to see him cowering behind the bushes but ignored instructions to avoid strangers.

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t do it anymore. Every day: first the pigs; then your grandma. They’ve painted me bad. I’m not. I’m –“

A giant with a goose crash-landed beside them.

“I’ll not let that nasty boy steal my goose, again. And he says I’m bad.”

A diverse troupe in T-shirts emblazoned “Freedom for princesses” appeared.

“We want out,” they all chanted.

A witch magicked a rocket from a pinecone and everyone disappeared.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

42 thoughts on “Escape to anywhere

  1. Marcia Strykowski

    Great post! I hadn’t really thought about it until now, but you’re right, fairy tale characters all seem to be escaping. A few more: Rapunzel escaping the tower, Beauty escaping the beast, Cinderella escaping her step-family, etc. I like the idea of those caught in the wrong book, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Hugh's Views and News

    Wow! So many escapes in those fairy tales, Norah. I do wonder if we’re all escaping from something on our journey in life, especially given that most people always seem to be in a rush. A rush to get the shopping done, a rush to catch the bus, a rush to get showered, a rush to eat dinner. I thought life slowed done as we got older? I haven’t seen any signs of it slowing down just yet, but maybe I’m escaping from something?
    Have a lovely weekend.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I guess we are all escaping from something, and we’ll finally escape life in the end. I wonder where we’ll escape to. 🙂
      I wonder is the rush escaping from or to. Seems we rushing towards that final escape with ever-increasing speed.
      Some parts of me have slowed down as I’ve aged but most of me is objecting to it.
      I hope you have a wonderful weekend too. Mine’s pretty good so far.

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  3. Jennie

    Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
    We all want to escape to anywhere, and have adventures through reading. Children especially! Fairy Tales are the foundation for the best stories. But, there is so much more! Norah takes us from the best traditional fairy tales, to modern fairy tales, to a new favorite- Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. This is Mo Willems at his best! I bought the book. Be prepared to laugh your head off. Then, what if characters are in the wrong book and want to leave? Norah’s post tells it all. Delightful!

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  4. Pingback: Escape Artist « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  5. Charli Mills

    What a great idea for a flash challenge, Norah! I hadn’t realized just how many children’s books are about escape. I agree with Anne! I like the dialog as the characters gather in your flash before vanishing.

    Liked by 2 people

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  6. jeanne229

    Love the idea of characters finding themselves in the wrong story…a good metaphor for life! More adult versions came to mind: the poet Anne Sexton’s collection, Transformations, where she takes 17 classic fairy tales as her foundation for an exploration of deeper themes. And a delightful Emma Thompson film called Stranger Than fiction, in which a boring auditor finds himself the protagonist of a mainstream author’s latest novel. Delightful flash. Thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jeanne. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post.
      I haven’t read any of Anne Sexton’ poetry. I’ll have to check it out. I like the sound of transforming fairy tales. Sarah Brentyn does wonderful things with fractured fairy tales.
      I’m reading some lovely poetry by my online friends Christy Birmingham and D. Avery at the moment. I’ll add Anne’s book to the collection. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. thecontentedcrafter

    Hi Norah! Great post. You reminded me there’s an adult book called ‘Lost in Austen’ in which the modern character gets to swap places with Elizabeth Bennett which is quite a fun read. I believe it has been made into a movie or a TV film too. I love your flash this week, it is so clever and funny!

    Liked by 3 people

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  8. Annecdotist

    Great post, Norah. I think it shows how awful childhood can be when so many of these classic stories are about escape! And those of us writing for adults can learn a lot about what makes a story “work” from fairy tales.
    What a clever way you’ve incorporated these themes into your flash – it was great fun to read.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Anne. I guess most of us escape childhood in the end, whether we want to or not! Good themes are universal aren’t they, and appeal to every age. I appreciate your kind words about my escapist post.

      Liked by 1 person

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  9. Mabel Kwong

    I like this post a lot. Goes to show that with time, there is always some form of escape with fictional stories. Never heard of the newer version Goldilocks and the dinosaurs, but it seems to stretch our imaginations of what characters can be. As you mentioned, characters appearing in the wrong story or in a different story can turn a story on its head. I do not want to think of the Three Little Pigs chasing the Gingerbread Man because I don’t want him to be eaten! Don’t want a sad ending love good endings, but I think sometimes maybe it’s worthwhile exploring a darker ending to a childhood story – perhaps it can give more weight to lessons to be told.

    Your little story there at the end was very unpredictable. Did not see the ending coming. Everyone vanished in the end. I wonder if the witch disappeared too.

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for adding your thoughts, Mabel. I must admit I prefer happy endings too. Sometimes children can explore other emotions and darker thoughts through a diversity of stories.
      My story was unpredictable. I was quite constrained by the 99 words. Yes, the witch went with them all in the pinecone tardis. 🙂

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      1. Mabel Kwong

        I think happier endings give us hope of a better tomorrow – and it teaches us that it is worth holding on and trying our best to get a better outcome.

        I hope the witch and everyone else disappeared to a happy party place 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

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  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    I love your thinking here. I do worry about conveniently rocketing these beleaguered characters away. To where? Where will they land? (Never mind, if I pay attention to your title, anywhere will do) But perhaps they need, either individually or even collectively, to tell their own stories. Some have. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith and The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury are two I can think of. How interesting to think of characters escaping the stories told about them; and we read (and write) to escape the trappings of our own daily dramas?

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi D. Yes, that pinecone was rather convenient wasn’t it? A bit too convenient for my liking, but the best I could do in 99 words! I love The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. It is hilarious and is great for children to discuss different perspectives. I haven’t read The Three Little Wolves though. I must look out for it.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. I seem to be struggling more and more with Charli’s challenges.

      Liked by 2 people

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      1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Your posts and flashes show success with the challenges. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Are you most proud of the student who always says, “that was easy”? Or the one who actually worked, learned, and met a challenge? You also meet your own self imposed challenges each week, tying in a post that has educative value.
        What you do with your allotted 99
        your bit of water you turn to wine
        you go beyond fiction that brags “look what I can do!”
        you research and post and say “here’s a gift for all of you”
        rather than selfishly reeling in your daily bread
        you cast about so that yours you might spread
        you look for the meaning, make something to share
        So, Jesus, Norah, it’s a fine job you’ve done there.

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        1. Norah Post author

          D., Thank you for looking deeper and finding something within me that I had failed to see. The generosity and beauty of your poetic tribute moves me. Sometimes I fail to see the result. I am still consumed by the challenge of the journey and its flaws. I am always overwhelmed by the generosity of those who read. Thank you for yours. 🙂

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