A touching, realistic, gently humorous story of how a sensitive boy copes with his treasured grandfather’s decline.

Kirkus Reviews (starred)

The Runaways

Grandson and grandpa run away together for a one-night adventure.

Written by Ulf Stark and illustrated by Kitty Crowther

Translated by Julia Marshall

Read the first chapter here.

Available as an ebook wherever you buy your ebooks

ISBN: The Runaways Categories: , , , , ,

  • Description

    “I hate the food here,” Grandpa said. “ They’ve taken all the joy out of it.
    Not even the water tastes any good.”
    “Perhaps you should run away,” I suggested.
    “I did a lot of that when I was young,” he said. “I think it’s a bit late now…”
    But by the time I had to leave for the bus, we’d made a plan.

    Grandpa’s in the hospital and hating it. He swears at the nurses and makes trouble for everyone. Dad finds it too stressful to visit, but Gottfried Junior visits Grandpa as often as he’s allowed, and when he’s not allowed, he goes anyway.
    Grandpa thinks only of the place he was happiest—the island where he lived with Grandma. He wants to go back one last time, but they won’t let him out of the hospital.
    Gottfried Junior and Grandpa take things into their own hands. If running away is the only way to the island, then they’ll be runaways.

  • Book Details

    Country of Origin Sweden
    Reader Age 6-8 year, 8-12 year
    Book Size

  • Reviews

    1. Kids’ Book Review (verified owner)

      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.

    2. Liz Derouet (verified owner)

      The relationships between father and son, and grandfather and grandson, are central to the novel, as is the love they have for each other and the various ways this love is shared.

    3. NZ Poetry Box

      A very delicious book that will make you feel warm inside, a little bit sad and a big bit daring!

    4. Magpie Magazine (AUS)

      The Runaways looks at the important role grandparents play and is also a gentle introduction to death. Suitable for a 6+ audience, younger readers will enjoy the story and more mature readers will take away some of the deeper meanings layered in the text.

    5. Publisher Spotlight

      This is a perfect picture book for older readers and Publishers Weekly’s starred review is a just reward.

    6. Red Reading Hub

      …Ulf Stark’s gently humorous story is told…in a straightforward manner that adds to its impact while Kitty Crowther’s colour pencil illustrations have their own power that perfectly complements the honesty of the first person narration.

    7. The Irish Times

      Stark paints a moving portrait of the intergenerational relationship, and he writes beautifully and sensitively about old age, as well as the connection between grandfather and son.

    8. The Children’s Bookshop

      Stark’s beautiful story of the special bond between grandfather and grandson is an absolute delight.

    9. Bob’s Book Blog

      A superb novel for everybody about fathers, sons, grandfathers and the end of life written by master Swedish children’s writer Ulf Stark. Oh to be able to write simply, with power, about some of the big issues in life.

    10. Agnew Reading

      The Runaways is a richly rewarding and unsentimental story, about three generations and their relationships and love for each other.

    11. Connie (bookseller), Bookworks Albuquerque

      It is an exquisite piece…These are characters that are to be taken to heart and their personalities and situations to be mulled over long after the book is read.

    12. Netgalley – Reviewer

      This quick-paced, never-a-dull-moment middle-grade chapter book hits on a variety of topics: lying, and whether a lie can be good; family, and the differences and similarities that can bring together or drive apart its members; kindness, and the importance of saying the things that need to be said before it’s too late; and death, whether it’s ever too late to change.

    13. Netgalley – Reviewer

      Some very tender moments, complimented by beautiful illustrations.

    14. Netgalley – Educator

      It is told in a simple way with beautiful, bright illustrations that are as important as the text and contrast and support the story really nicely.

    15. Netgalley / Goodreads

      I would recommend this book as a great one for reading any time, but also as a way to talk about death and dying.

    16. Live to Read to Live

      What a beautiful glimpse into one man’s life and the surprising ways two generations connect and look out for one another. Everyone needs a friend like that!

    17. The Horn Book

      In this iteration [of a child helping an old person go on the lam] every emotional effect is fully earned, and the final beat — in which we learn, obliquely, that Grandpa has died — is deeply affecting.

    18. Orange Marmalade Books

      This piece, a posthumous publication by renowned Swedish author Ulf Stark, illustrated by fabulous Belgian artist, Kitty Crowther, is one of the most subversive, and simultaneously deeply-human stories I’ve met.

    19. Children of Books

      … an authentic, fun, irreverent yet moving tribute to the very special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren … Big themes are brought at child’s height, holding on to humour and realism. Kitty Crowther stays true to this purpose, quietly illustrating the key scenes with her unique vibrant style.

    20. The New York Times

      The writing is unflashy and deadpan except for when it’s unflashy and musical. Crowther’s bright, naïve pencil illustrations fit the offbeat text.

    21. Starred review, Booklist

      Deftly drawn and sometimes amusing, the character portrayals are utterly convincing. Expressive full-page illustrations add color to the pages while supporting the story’s tone. An unusual adventure story with a core of mutual grandfather-grandson affection.

    22. Annika Edlund

      Grandpa is in the hospital. He’s not a very popular patient, but his grandson Ulf is very fond of him. The feeling is mutual: something hard for Ulf’s dentist father to understand. So they decide to plan an escape. No surprise that it turns out to be a magical, if slightly strenuous weekend. Pastel drawings by Kitty Crowther underlay the text with light and dark, anger and joy, dreams and reality, all melding into a gorgeous whole. I love it! — ALMA Jury Member, Annika Edlund

    23. Publishers Weekly

      Starred review, Publishers Weekly (US), March 2019

      Autumn-hued illustrations by Crowther (Stories of the Night) juxtapose the dull hospital against glorious piney islands and a light-filled sea. Stark straightforwardly conveys family tensions, end-of-life concerns, and intergenerational adoration alongside an archipelago’s worth of vivid details.

    24. Kirkus Reviews

      Starred review, Kirkus Review (US), January 2019

      A touching, realistic, gently humorous story of how a sensitive boy copes with his treasured grandfather’s decline.

Available worldwide from your local bookstore or online.

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