Everyone Walks Away ISBN: 9781776571864
Published by Gecko Press, 2019
This is a very unusual picture book. The author/illustrator is Swedish and very well respected, but I must admit to finding this odd. The main character is a boy, Frank, who is often lonely and left out by his friends. They quite purposely walk away and leave him alone; they do it all the time, and this is upsetting. He decides to try to do something about this situation, so he goes home and cries lots of tears into a saucepan and makes jam with sugar and the tears. The three chums are intrigued by what he is doing and follow him to see what he is up to. He proceeds to toast some bread and make tea and then to ask them to share tea with him. Just what jam made with tears and sugar would be like one can’t imagine, but the three children join him, even though they seem a bit unsure, and they evidently eat the strange food because at the end we see an empty room with crumbs and finished cups of tea on a table. The atmosphere of the illustrations is bleak, and the three friends who have sent Frank to Coventry are very aware by the way they act that they know they are being unkind. Is his reading of the situation and his response to it supposed to be a form of ‘turning the other cheek’? Salty jam seems an odd way of doing it. The illustrations while bleak are full of different perspectives and lots of spaciousness, and the knowing eyes of the three children who are being unkind are very evocative of what is going on. It will take an unusual child to understand what is happening, but the sadness and loneliness is very apparent in both text and picture.