'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 9 March 2020

Review: The Runaways

Grandpa is living with his memories if what he is doing can be called living. He is shut away in a hospital with pins holding his leg together. He hates the food and swears at the nurses. His son doesn’t understand him and his attitude. So he stays away and finds solace in silence.

Gottfried Junior loves him deeply and visits him often. They talk about everything together. He longs to bring him home to live, but Father refuses.

Grandpa has an enlarged heart, the result of his grief at the loss of his wife and home on the island.

There are things he wants to see one more time, but he is far away from his house on the hill.

Gottfried and Grandpa cook up a scheme to run away together for the weekend so the old man can tie up the few dangling strings from his past.
With the help of the kind and loving Adam from the bread shop, they plan their getaway.

They arrive at Grandpa’s house with great difficulty. But it is clear that Grandpa is there to farewell; to let go of his life. He also has memories to collect to stamp in his mind and questions to which, perhaps, there are no answers. There are longings that he had no time to fulfil before he was injured and forced to leave his island. Then there are the few treasures that he wants to take back with him.

Ulf Stark has captured the young boy’s and the old man’s thoughts and voice, transferring them to the page in simple honest words. The strong bond between the old and the young is deeply moving. The lack of compassion from Gottfried’s father for Grandpa is heart-wrenching. The sadness of old age and the decrepitude that accompanies it is subtly and authentically portrayed.

The roughness and beauty of Kitty Crowther’s illustrations match and complement this character-driven story. They sit along-side Grandpa’s irritable attitude and emphasise his frustration and inabilities. Beautifully delivered, this is a story of love and its legacy.

The book comes with a striking cover showing the two main characters, reinforced by a fold-under flap.

Title: The Runaways
Author: Ulf Stark
Illustrator: Kitty Crowther
Publisher: Gecko Press, $17.99
Publication Date: April 2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781776572342
For ages: 6 – 11
Type: Middle Grade Fiction