In the wake of The Master Book of Spies, this is a quick-change collection of escape epics -- the baby Jesus into Egypt and Jonah from the whale on down to Bonnie Prince Charlie, Houdini, Mendes-France, the Wormwood Scrubbs plotters and Papillon. McCormick takes his role as an investigator seriously; he personally tracked down rumors of survivors from Tsar Nicholas' family, for example, before declaring them insubstantial. Yet he prefers to dwell on bizarre episodes of, say, cannibalism at sea and tests of individual ""character"" while ignoring such historically important sagas as the underground railroad. This, plus the offhandedly eclectic style and commercial-looking illustrations (including movie stills) will have most librarians heading for the nearest exit. It ain't necessarily so, but such offbeat intelligence (how about the 19th century sailor who lived two days inside the viscera of a whale?) will predictably find a captive audience.