This wordless book is one that both kids and adults are likely to enjoy poring over for ages. It’s basically a long crazy chase sequence, featuring an escaped prisoner and a gaggle of inept and frequently befuddled prison guards.
Wherever he goes, this prisoner wreaks havoc. In the natural history museum he destroys the dinosaur skeleton. In the cinema he charges across the screen during a romantic kiss, annoying the viewers. In the circus he pretends to be a tightrope walker – with the inevitable disastrous consequences.
The action keeps on coming and is wonderfully slapstick – think Laurel and Hardy and their comedy of escalation.
Dupasquier tells the story using a full-colour, comic-book format with a variety of different-sized panels, depending on whether the scene is a large ‘wide-screen’ or a smaller close-up. The drawing is superb, with each character clearly portrayed and reacting in one way or another to the ever-increasing chaos around them.
In addition each scene is packed with smaller stories, jokes and observations that are fun to spot. For instance there’s the man who’s nodded off at the back of the cinema, the distracted nurse who’s spilling the medicine, the escaping circus elephant who’s enjoying a good munch on some leaves, and the rats and buried treasures hidden under the pavement.
The Great Escape is a really funny, cleverly plotted book that offers a huge amount of comic entertainment. And you’ll find kindness as well as silliness tucked into this story, too, as amid the mayhem the prisoner manages to find time to return a cat to its owner, rescue a threatened fox and give a grateful dog a chicken to eat.
Even the ending is brilliant, as there’s a clever plot twist when the story returns full circle to the prison. Peace settles for a moment, then suddenly the action is up and running again with a mirror-like image of the opening spread. A new adventure is about to start!
It’s a real delight of a book by a master of visual story-telling.