A pair of red shoes become the subject of a disagreement between little Alfie and his mom. So, in an act of defiance over her (perceived) tyranny, Alfie dramatically declares that he is going to run away.
Instead of attempting to stop him, however, his mother calmly advises him on all the things that he might need to bring along with him — ranging from the practical to the emotional. Of course, this is really a brilliant way to subtly remind him of all the everyday things that he takes for granted and would miss out on if and when he leaves.
The dialogue in this warmly empathetic tale is particularly sweet in terms of how it depicts the mother-and-son dynamic — although, in relationships, what is unsaid is often as important as what is said. Thus, it’s a welcome bonus that the characters’ body language and facial expressions are vividly portrayed in the illustrations to help us better understand their emotions and feelings. The signature thick, faded charcoal lines of the illustrator also have a warm and fuzzy feel that is perfectly suited for the vignettes that accompany and, like the best illustrations do, help to enhance the text.
While it’s clear throughout the book that Alfie is unlikely to get far in his plan to run away from home, it’s heartwarming to see his mom remaining so patient, supportive and understanding in the midst of his angsty attempt to assert his independence. At the same time, it’s also clear that underneath his petulance and bravado, Alfie is just a kid who is struggling with growing pains, and who still needs a hug from his mom from time to time.
p.s. The last wordless spread is guaranteed to tug on every parent’s heartstrings!