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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
As the saying goes, the grass on the other side of the fence always looks greener. But is it? For this sad, frustrated, even scared little boy, life away from home has to be better than at home. His parents fight, his sister pesters him, and he just doesn’t know which way to turn. So, he does what young children often try to do: he runs away from home. Only this runaway ends up on a magical journey through a dark forest full of nighttime creatures. It’s a journey to find himself, to discover an inner peace that will help him carry on. When he runs away, can he really get away fast enough and far enough?
Marianne Cooper’s picture book story, The Runaway, is a touching story about seeking inner peace and a sense of belonging, a safe place where he can grow up secure in the knowledge that he is loved. Written in simple language so young readers can follow along and work on their own reading skills, the plot develops gradually with great attention to detail. The illustrations are magical and whimsical and certainly drive the story forward. The story’s simplicity will appeal to young readers as they relate to the little boy’s angst over his home life. As he struggles with the magical elements of his running away, he starts to re-think what he’s left behind. His reasoning is certainly in tune with young minds as he starts to wonder if his home really is as bad as he first thought. These powerful messages about the strength of love and the everlasting family bond are beautifully told and illustrated.