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Find mischief in every word of ‘The Great Thanksgiving Escape’

You already know where you’ll sit this Thanksgiving.

Your chair is at the kids’ table, just like it always is. Your brothers and sisters, your mom’s friend’s kids, all you youngsters (as Grandma calls you), even your favorite cousin will be there, too. There’s just no way to avoid it — unless, as in “The Great Thanksgiving Escape” by Mark Fearing, you can run… fast!

Grandma’s house. Another Thanksgiving. Gavin was so not excited.

As soon as they got there, his mother sent him straightaway to the kid’s room where all the cousins were — even the babies. She said they’d let him know when it was time to eat. Before he walked away, Gavin’s dad said to have fun!

Right. Like that was ever going to happen in a roomful of babies.

But then, Gavin heard his cousin Rhonda, whispering. She was hiding beneath a pile of coats on a bed, and she had a daring suggestion: Why didn’t they just break out of the place? Sure, they could sneak away, maybe head for the hills and cool it until dinnertime.

Sometimes, she said firmly, “you have to make your own fun.”

That sounded like a dandy idea to Gavin.

Silent, like ninjas, they crawled toward the front door because it seemed like the easiest way out — but it became quickly apparent that that wasn’t going to work: the door was guarded by two huge, slobbering guard dogs. “RUN!” shouted Rhonda, and they did, right into a whole bunch of cheek-pinchers and bear-huggers.

Ugh. Gavin had bad memories of that from last Christmas.

But before they could get away, though, Rhonda was caught! Bravely and cleverly, she avoided that very close call and they fled for the back door — right into another roadblock that was disgusting and possibly deadly, so they went yet another creepy, dark and smelly way, which led to something that’s simply too scary to discuss.

Were they lost? Was there any way out? Could they keep from being surrounded, grabbed or captured? Was there still time to make their getaway — or did Rhonda and Gavin need to make entirely different plans?

Oh, sure. Who doesn’t recall pretend games of grave danger on a rainy day, escaping fanciful Bad Guys and bravely facing faux-peril around every corner? Give that a holiday spin, and you’ve got “The Great Thanksgiving Escape.”

Yes, this is a kids’ book, but I absolutely loved the imaginations and the naughty glee that author-illustrator Mark Fearing gives his main characters; there’s so much mischief in every word and picture of this book that I lingered on the pages, just because I liked the rowdiness it implied. Is there an adult who won’t remember that with fondness? I don’t think so, and I don’t think there’s a kid who won’t find it hilarious.

If your household is like most, Thanksgiving lasts just a day or two but this is a book that your 3- to 7-year-old will want, year-round. For both of you, “The Great Thanksgiving Escape” is a sure feast.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children weekly.

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