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The Runaway Dinner
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The Runaway Dinner

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  478 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
Talk about fast food! A hilarious, high-speed tale from the inimitable Allan Ahlberg — catch it if you can!

What happens if someone's dinner decides that, well, it doesn't want to be eaten? For a hungry little boy named Banjo and a savory sausage named Melvin, it's a plight that can only result in a breathless escape — and what a chase it is! Off speeds the sturdy sausa
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by Candlewick Press (first published June 5th 2006)
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Rating details
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Mar 05, 2010 rated it liked it
I am so not sure whether this book is just completely random and odd or whether it is some seriously genius imagination--I was amused and bemused all at the same time. Some parts seemed a bit redundant, but a few parts were hilarious (when the boy finds the runaway sausage by the tree in the park and plans to finish what he started... HAHA!) and a few parts were just so... um... well, the fate of the peas!? Then again, I could totally see kids loving this so maybe I'm just being a Big Boring Gro ...more
Lisa Vegan
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: children who enjoy the ridiculous
Completely bizarre.

This story is a complete hoot and both the story and pictures are very amusing. The illustrations work very well with this book, even though they’re not my favorite when standing on their own.

I think for children who are particularly empathetic, haven’t developed past the normal “psychotic” stage, or are very literal minded, after having this read to them, they might be a tad haunted by all of their food for a long time. It’s probably worth the read anyway though.

As a vegan, I
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidstuff, eating
It took me several pages to warm up to this one, but I ended up really enjoying the merry chase that ensues when Banjo's sausage, veggies, table, and chair take off out the door. I particularly liked the last painting of Melvin the sausage and his new little friend.

A cute, though somewhat exhausting story.
Feb 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Well... huh. I can't decide if this book was absolutely absurd or totally brilliant...

The book is, really, a bunch of nonsense with no "purpose" or "message" that I can find. However, sometimes it's fun to read a book that's just meant to bring a smile and a laugh.

I shan't divulge the ending (which did have me guessing all the way to the very last page!) but I shall say this on the plus side: clever, well illustrated, amusing, unpredictable, funny, and entertaining.

On the negatives: Unfortunate
Matt Davies
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
A little boy's dinner runs away and he chases it across the road, waiting for the green light of course, and all the way through the park. Actually, that's not quite true. In fact the table and chair and knife and fork and his parents also chase the runaway dinner. And it was the sausage, Melvin by name, that started it all and who finally escapes with the cricket ball. This is a picture book with a lot of text, no really a lot of extremely verbose text, that has a very chatty feel to it, which ...more
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Per my first grader: good, awesome, funny
Darcie Saunier
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This book is SO cute. As I read it to myself, the voice I hear in my head is that of a fast-talking, nasal-sounding, sports announcer! I love how every inanimate thing has a name because in my warped world they DO have names! Lol! Cute book! Fun for a story time.
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Exceedingly, awesomely silly.
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
When I first heard my husband reading this book aloud to our son I thought it was dumb. Then I read it and looked at the pictures and really liked it. Funny, especially the names of the food. I thought the ending was kind of anticlimactic but the picture on the very last page made up for it pretty well. My three year old thought it was really funny.
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Hilarious use of rhythm and syntax. It reads as if someone were speaking and not writing the words. The story line is busy and funny. By giving nearly every object a name and gender, they are all personified and appeal to children. There are several clever plays on words, such as the French Fries having French names. I thought this was a very silly story and a lot of fun to read.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
Wow...I REALLY didn't like this book. A boy named Banjo loves sausage. His sausage's name is Melvin, and one day Melvin runs away, followed by the plate, the knife and fork, the table and the chair. Way to willy-nilly of a story.
Talia Smart
Dec 31, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abc, picture-books
Molly Cluff (Library!)
This book was charming but a bit too texty for my taste.
Amusing story, if not quite as funny as I was expecting. This book seemed like a logical choice, after reading the hilariously funny Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. We've been reading a few Allan Ahlberg books, including for instance The Jolly Postman, which I can heartily recommend. I'm beginning to appreciate the recurring characters in many of Ahlberg's books, such as Each Peach Pear Plum and The Baby's Catalogue, although these have Ahlberg's drawings whereas this one does not. My son, like m ...more
Willie Butts
May 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eng-353
Picture Book
Ahlberg, Allan. The Run Away Dinner. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2006
Genre: Children’s Books
This book tells the story of a boy name Banjo who is preparing to eat his dinner. After sitting at the table his sausage jumps up and starts s running away. All of the other food items and the table and chair follow the sausage out the door and the journey throughout the neighbor hood begins as Banjo chases them in an attempt to capture his dinner. Most of the food items get eaten or disa
Meg Jahns
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This exciting book tells the very true story of the day a little boy’s dinner, a sausage, decided to run away. Banjo, the little boy, chases his dinner all over town. The table, utensils, neighborhood animals, and Banjo’s parents are all in on the chase. Banjo finally catches his sausage, but his mother won’t let him eat it because it has been on the ground. Banjo goes home to have dessert, only for his plum pie to run away too. I think the main theme of this book is that sometimes our normal ro ...more
Ellen Tischendorf
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Banjo, a hungry little boy, sat down to eat his dinner one day, when all of the sudden his sausage and the rest of his food and silverware ran away. He chases his food all around town, as more people and animals also tag along. In the end, he loses his dinner, so he goes home to eat his dessert, where it happens all over again with his plum pie running away.
"The Runaway Dinner" is a quality picture book because of it's writing style and illustrations. The characters were well developed and the
Vicki Kier
Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-the-child
A quirky take on the classic gingerbread boy tale, Ahlberg's rendering features a little boy Banjo, who takes off in pursuit of a cheeky sausage named Melvin after he escapes the dinner-plate one evening. Mayhem ensues as others, on and off the plate, follow Melvin's lead. Caution: although Ahlberg's outrageously long sentences drive the energetic flow of the text, and his excessive use of interrupting conjunctive adverbs is greatly responsible for the humor in this tale, some readers may find t ...more
Heather Gallagher
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I think this story is loosely based on the Gingerbread Man but so much more fun! Allan Ahlberg has been a perpetual favourite for me ever since discovering his wonderful Gaskitt series. The story is about a little boy called Banjo who has a sausage for dinner every day. One day, his sausage - Melvin, his name was - jumps right off the plate and runs away. The boy gives chase and so do the peas, carrots and chips on his plate. And so it goes with people and inanimate objects joining the chase. Ev ...more
Aug 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
We've read several stories by Allan Ahlberg and we love the silliness and the funny twists and turns the stories take. This book was recommended by another reviewer here, so we decided to check it out. It is certainly an absurdly entertaining story and a lot of fun to read aloud. The illustrations are very comic and the narrative is strange, but in a very fantastic, tall tale kind of way. The anthropomorphism of the food could be disturbing, but we just found it to be funny. The story begs to be ...more
May 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This books is awesome! Really funny, lyrical writing and illustrations you can really pour over. It's about a boy named freakin' BANJO and his dinner, which incidentally runs away. Hence the title. It's a retelling of an old story... but done better! And with some of the most clever illustrations I've seen. Lots of small but perfect details, like Banjo's Spiderman costume hanging on a clothesline in his backyard, seen as he's chasing after Melvin, the sausage that got away and started this whole ...more
Sarah George
Sep 05, 2013 added it
Shelves: tled-642
1) Genre: Picture Book
2) This picture book is about a boy who's dinner unexpectedly gets up and runs away. The boy is so hungry but now has to chase his dinner to eat it.
3) a. Humor
b. The humor within this story makes a somewhat strange idea very funny.
c. For example, the faces on the spoon and silver ware made the inanimate objects have life-like features.
4) I would use this story to teach story sequence, because the boy is running through the town and goes through sequences to reach his d
Hannah Jane
May 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: easy-fiction
What I liked: Some of the illustrations were pretty darn funny. And the pea on the front reminds me of myself maybe. I think we can all see a little bit of ourselves in the pea. I also liked the name of the cat. Mildred has been added to my Names for Future Cats list.
What I didn't like: It was super choppy and kind of drawn out.

I might read this to a kid because I think we would end up talking about something else, like foods the kid doesn't like. And if my future kids like this I will not giv
Leke Akinyemi
Dec 12, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this story. It was pretty abstract and quite unconvential. THe ocncept of dinner running away gave enough suspense as to what the outcome of the story would be. Though the outcome was pretty unfortunate for the cutlery, crockery and dining furntiture, Ahlberg managed to retain a wholesome atmosphere throughout the story.

Children may find it hard understanding the story so they may need some interactive annotating.
Julie Grasso
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
My 2 1/2 year old loves this book and I have to say it is growing on me, but I am at a loss as to why it is so lengthy. The premise is so witty and I love that in a kids book. We originally got this from the library and had to eventually put it on the Christmas list as it was requested so often. The illustrations are quirky and engaging, and as I said my little G loves it, so we will have to give it 4.5 stars, minus 0.5 for the excess word limit.
Mar 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: funny, picture-book
This one is just plain silly--really, really silly, and my kids ate it up. It has a very definite rhythm of someone telling a story aloud, so you have to be aware of that when reading it aloud. Not a particular favorite of mine, but I have a feeling I'll be asked to read it again a few times before it goes back to the library.
Sep 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poor Banjo. He sits down to eat his dinner, the same dinner he eats every night, at his own little table... and it runs away. All of it.

So we read through the whole chase scene, with every (named) bit of furniture or food either ending up happily escaped or unhappily eaten.

It's written in a very talking-aloud style, lots of little asides and such.

I really recommend this one.
Blythe Jewell
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids, escapism
Second only to The Pencil (another Ahlberg/Ingman book), this is one of my very favorite stories to read to my four-year old son. It's wonderfully written and drawn, a whimsical story, fantastically fun to read aloud, and interactive. I will treasure this book forever as something my son and I shared together.
Jillian Warren
Sep 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
My daughter brought this book home from her school library and it is an awful book for children. The idea is novel enough to interest children but it is an incredibly rough read because it doesn't follow the conventions of the English language. A child that is trying to read this book would have an awful hard time making sense of the words because it will sound strange to them. I don't recommend.
May 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: with-the-kids
I just read this to the kids, they enjoyed it, but I loved it, the writing was really good, it was my kind of sense of humor, I was thinking that I would want to read more from the same author, keep in mind this was a kids illustrated book!
The three stars is because in the end there was no point to the book, nothing to learn!

It was just pure fun!
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Allan Ahlberg, one of the most acclaimed and successful authors of children's books - including the best-selling Jolly Postman series - says that he dreamed of becoming a writer since the age of twelve. But his route to that goal was somewhat circuitous.

Other jobs along the way included postman (not an especially jolly one, he recalls), gravedigger, plumber, and teacher.

The author wrote his firs
More about Allan Ahlberg

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