cover image Alfie Runs Away

Alfie Runs Away

Kenneth M. Cadow, illus. by Lauren Castillo, FSG/Foster, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-30202-3

Cadow debuts with a perceptively written story about a power struggle between a mother and her small son. Alfie's mother proposes to give away his favorite red shoes—they're too small—and he responds by announcing that he's running away. The conflict unfolds in slow motion: Alfie's rebellion doesn't involve yelling or tears, and his mother honors his feelings without backing down. "May I give you a hug?" she asks, as he prepares to leave. "You may let me keep my shoes," says Alfie stiffly. "I will put a hug in your bag," she replies. Castillo's (What Happens on Wednesdays) spreads, comfortingly rendered in muted colors, are just right for Cadow's even-tempered narration. The figures are edged with soft black lines, echoing the sense that Alfie is surrounded by secure boundaries. When Alfie discovers, on his blanket out in the backyard, that his red shoes fit his teddy bear ("Those shoes will never get too small for you," he reassures Buddy Bear), readers will feel the value of the thinking Alfie's done for himself. A fine first outing for Cadow. Ages 4–8. (May)