The Runaway Dinner

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
The Runaway Dinner Book Poster Image
Kids will eat up this zany food chase.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness

No real violence, but some of the personified food is eaten.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that food is personified, named, and then eaten in this story. If kids have no issue with that, they'll find plenty to laugh at in the pandemonium that ensues as a result of the food chase.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bythirdgrade November 5, 2011

Buy all THREE!

My third graders LOVE this book-along with The Pencil and Previously. We write our own sequals to these books. They always ask me to read it again and again. Th... Continue reading

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What's the story?

An ordinary little kid named Banjo Cannon has a problem with his dinner: the everyday sausage, peas, carrots, and fries come to life, run away with the dishes in pursuit, and lead him on a merry chase through the English streets. Various unexpected adventures ensue until Banjo's parents carry him home to a large helping of plum pudding. And the adventure takes off again.

Is it any good?

This book is full of silliness, and to its great benefit, it's cleverly written and illustrated. THE RUNAWAY DINNER is a cross between the story of the wily Gingerbread Man and "Hey, diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle" -- especially "the dish ran away with the spoon" part. Kids will get a kick out of Melvin, the sausage, as he streaks across town with his culinary entourage. Allan Ahlberg has created a friendly, tongue-in-cheek tone that will make kids want to join in on the fun.

The story moves along briskly while the narrator interjects casual comments and questions about how true the story is, what has happened to this character or that, and how mysterious or fun it's all becoming. The flat acrylic paintings coupled with uncolored, ink-lined drawings are inviting and entertaining. Illustrated by Bruce Ingman, each page looks like a kid's painting and offers plenty to look at, search for, and count.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how surprised they would be if their food jumped off their plate and ran away. Could that really happen? What would you do if it did? Do you believe the narrator when he says that this story is the "absolute truth, the complete picture"? Kids also might like to talk about the names of the characters, and come up with new ones they might choose. For starters, Banjo is an unusual name for a little boy.

Book details

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