December 15 – It’s Gift-Giving Season

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About the Holiday

If you’re looking for a gift for an older child or tween who’s curious about history, loves a good mystery, and is into puzzles, cyphers, and seemingly impossible feats, then you’ll want to put today’s book at the top of your shopping list. Books that encourage a child’s natural interests, stretches their knowledge, and sends them off to discover more about the world will always be gifts they appreciate.

I’d like to thank Little Gestalten for sending me a copy of Legendary Escapes for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Legendary Escapes

Written by Soledad Romero Mariño | Illustrated by Julio Antonio Blasco

 

There may be nothing as as thrilling as a daring escape from a dangerous situation or as mind-boggling as a seemingly impossible breakout from a high-security location. “How did they do that?” we ask, and usually we’re left scratching our heads as a few details trickle out and then the information dries up. But that’s not what happens when you get your hands on Legendary Escapes! Here, children (and, I dare say, a good number of adults) will learn each escapee’s backstory, discover the conditions of the prison, territory, or situation left behind, become privy to the planning stages of the escape, and then follow along, step-by-step, as the escapee fools their captors.

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Image copyright Julio Antonio Blasco, 2022, text copyright Soledad Romero Mariño, 2022.

In nine information-packed chapters, Soledad Romero introduces readers not only to these ingenious masterminds but to history, geography, and culture from 1750s Venice to Mexico in 2015. Her compelling narrative style draws readers in with straightforward, easily understood descriptions that allow them to immerse themselves in every aspect of the case at hand. Fascinating tidbits sprinkled throughout each chapter will amaze and may spark further research, while the titles of movies made about some of these events will have families grabbing the remote.

Among these astounding true stories, readers learn how one escapist “vanished” from prison by recreating the key to his cell from memory after seeing it in his jailer’s hand; how three prisoners fashioned papier-mâché heads to fool the guards at bed checks; how a man slipped through the meal-tray slot in his prison door to gain his freedom; how a slave fled the South for the free North with the help of the postal system; and how a charming rogue and conman, jailed for having a banned book, finally broke out of a notorious prison after a first attempt was thwarted. And that’s just to get you started!

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Image copyright Julio Antonio Blasco, 2022, text copyright Soledad Romero Mariño, 2022.

Each color-coded chapter of this book, ingeniously designed by Julio Antonio Blasco, reads like above-the-fold newspaper articles published in The Los Angeles Examiner, the Daily Mirror, El País, Die Welt, and Korea Joongang Daily, among others, all complete with attention-grabbing headlines, sidebars, and eye-catching images that tell stories of their own. Stylized illustrations replicate over-the-wall scrambles, dangerous escape routes, WANTED posters, and insider views of some of the world’s toughest prisons. Readers will pore over each page, wanting to discover each fact, parse the clues, and find out what happened to each escapee.

Legendary Escapes is a book that will excite any history, journalism, mystery, or crime buff and offers a thrilling way to engage students in discovering the wider stories around these escapes. The book would make an excellent gift and is a must for any reader who loves to delve into the details of captivating true stories and compelling biographies. Legendary Escapes is a book that every school and public library should hold in its collection.

Ages 10 – 13 

Little Gestalten, 2022 | ISBN 978-3967047301

About the Author

Soledad Romero began her career as a creative director in advertising. In parallel, she founded her own publishing house where she collaborated with artists from all over the world. She now dedicates herself exclusively to the creation of children’s books as an author and editor. You can connect with her on Instagram.

About the Illustrator

Julio Antonio Blasco has worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for 15 years. He uses drawing, painting, collage, and other techniques in order to bring his books, and the characters within them, to life. You can view a portfolio of his work on his website.

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You can find Legendary Escapes at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

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