The Onion’s Great Escape | Sara Fanelli

The story of one vegetable’s survival in an interactive children’s book | As a cross between illustration, philosophy and paper engineering, Sara Fanelli’s most recent children’s book ‘The Onion’s Great Escape’ challenges the limitations of reading as an interactive experience | Following the quest of an onion as it attempts to escape its apparent fate of death by frying, the book’s perforated core is removed page-by-page until, at the end, the onion is literally freed from the book | The innovative fusion of tactile activity and illustration is taken a step further by a call-and-response method of asking children difficult questions with room for a written answer | Throughout the die-cut, 68-page work, questions range from the categorical ‘What is your name?’ to the metaphysical ‘What is the longest minute you can remember?’ | Rather than dumbing down the experience, each page challenges young minds to come up with a creative response | Fanelli’s illustrations show an impressive range, and she is able to freeze moments of delight and despair as the onion flies through obstacles on its journey to save himself | Each page of ‘The Onion’s Great Escape’ offers a new look and experience, and the diversity of styles is enhanced by the perforated core, which can be mixed and matched with different pages in the book | As the onion gradually breaks free from the pages, it emerges to stand alone as a 3D entity—the remainder of the book’s content staying intact | Sara Fanelli was born in Florence | She came to London to study art, and has been working there as a designer and illustrator since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1995 | She divides her time between self-generated projects and commercial illustration commissions from a wide range of international clients, including the New Yorker, Penguin Books, Faber & Faber, Tate Modern, The Victoria & Albert Museum, Ron Arad, Issey Miyake, the New York Times and the Royal Mail | She has written and illustrated a number of children’s books, and her work has been exhibited in venues around the world | She has twice been the overall winner of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s illustration award and been awarded two D&AD pencils | ‘The Onion’s Great Escape’ is available for pre-order from


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