Escape is a beautifully haunting picturebook that illustrates the plight
of individuals forced to flee their homes and families because of socio-cultural upheaval. Ming and Wah Chen tell twelve stories that document the movement of people, spanning Syria to Greece, Austria to China, Scotland to France, Kiribati
to New Zealand, and many more. These stories allow for historical and geographical perspectives but reinforce positive outcomes. Ming and Wah cleverly use action verbs as chapter headings to signify the experiences of the individuals. In the opening page of the picturebook,
Ming and Wah describe the verb ‘escape’ as the avoidance of a threatening evil; the evils of the world – war, famine, slavery, political injustice – are highlighted in a direct manner.
Carmen Vela’s illustrations are informative and colourful. However, what is most striking about Vela’s work is the ambiguous style of characterisation. By choosing
to depict the individuals without facial features or defining characteristics, Vela is demonstrating that these experiences are not isolated to these people alone; these are just some of the stories that haunt our society.
Overall, this is an interesting read and one that will be highly welcomed in schools for historical and geographical discussions. However, I feel that the stories would
have benefited from more detail and emotive content. Ming and Wah provide factual narratives that are accompanied by beautiful illustrations; they provide a platform for discussions on social-cultural issues and the personal impact of global evils.