Escape, One Day We Had to Run by Ming & Wah Chen, illustrated by Carmen Vela


Escape, One Day We Had to Run. What a title! One that evokes a feeling of fear, desperation and panic. But also feelings of hope and possibility. This book is a collection of real world stories depicting the heroic journeys of twelve brave individuals and groups who were forced to flee their homes in desperate bids for freedom and safety.

Ming & Wah Chen’s words tell these tales in concise pockets of information. A double page spread for each individual story. Enough detail to highlight the harrowing situations these people found themselves in and the hazardous choices they had to face to escape. Carmen Vela’s simplistic illustrations work beautifully with the text and together they create a powerful, thought provoking work of art.

Escape is a verb, it means to avoid a threatening evil and wow, did these individuals have to make some enormous desperate sacrifices to survive. We learn of sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini fleeing war-torn Syria, Hans and Margaret Rey escaping Paris on bikes hours before a Nazi invasion, Fidel Albelo breaking free from Cuba’s oppressive dictatorship on a raft and many more equally shocking narratives. As well as the distressing events of their lives however, we learn of their resilience, determination and stories of success.


Harriet Tubman is celebrated in this book. ‘Stowaway. Run away. Hide. Follow the North Star.’ Her heroic, selfless actions are depicted and her amazing story shared with the reader. The journey she took along secret routes from safe house to safe house is truly remarkable. Leaving behind the southern American slave states for Canada, where slavery had been abolished. Not only did Harriet escape slavery herself, she also paved the way to freedom for approximately seventy other enslaved people.

This book deserves a place in every key stage two classroom and primary school library. It is a picture book sure to make it’s reader think and empathise with the situations it depicts. Unfortunately, these stories aren’t only ones confined to the history books, distressingly they are still being written today.

Everyone has the right to freedom. Everyone has the right to feel safe.

ESCAPE: ONE DAY WE HAD TO RUN will be available in all good bookshops in the UK from May 6th and in the USA & CAN from May 4th! OR, buy your copy from Lantana’s online shop and donate a book to children who need books the most with your purchase:


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