This is an eloquent picture book for children of all ages that deftly touches upon subjects of loneliness and exclusion. We meet Frank who is standing alone while three friends are having fun. Frank goes home, cries into the pot and begins to cook. We don’t know what Frank is cooking and it is delicious to see the story emerge.
What is unique is the way the author has not made the hard topics soft and cuddly. Friendships are hard work and children know this. This book honours these emotions and children’s experiences by being honest about the sadness Frank feels. The ending wonderfully suggests the beginning possibilities of belonging, but doesn’t guarantee instant friendships.
The language is emotive; it provokes wonderful imagery and opens up conversations about how we experience emotions. “Frank goes home and cries into a pot” is a sad statement to make about a sad event. I wonder how older children might also imagine the sadness our characters are feeling? The words are just enough to tell the story and gives space to talk about the issues the characters face.
Eva Lindströmis a comic artist and the illustrations wonderfully mirror the sparse text. At the beginning, there is only one scooter, one seat, even the leaves seem to be drooping. There is loneliness in the pictures. But, as the friends join Frank, we can find three bowls, three chairs and three pieces of toast. Every detail is thought about, including colour. Frank is seemingly downcast compared to the sunshine and brightness used to portray the three friends. Hope appears in the pictures as the characters begin a new, tentative friendship.
It is a quiet story that will touch the reader. Everyone walks away is a real portrayal of friendships and belonging that deserves to be read aloud.
Reviewed by Sara Croft
Everyone walks away
by Eva Lindström
Published by Gecko Press