Noah Barleywater Runs Away

by John Boyne
ISBN: 9780385752466

It’s true you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it is also true that the cover is why I bought this one. More precisely, I noticed the book and got interested because Oliver Jeffers did some illustration for it, and I love him.

Turns out it wasn’t just the cover that was interesting. It’s a story about an eight year old boy who runs away. It reads a bit like a fairy tale (there’s a talking dog, and things seem magical, but it all makes perfect story sense) but doesn’t have a simplistic happily every after ending. I’m not saying it’s all doom and misery, either — it isn’t — it’s sad and not-sad and has a clever little bit at the end that will seem like more a twist to younger readers, but works for older readers, too.

I suppose I should mention that this book’s intended audience is kids. Chapter book reading kids who can keep going for two hundred pages, which, as the Harry Potter phenomenon demonstrated, is actually a remarkable number of the under-thirteen as well as over-thirty set.

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