TITLE: NOAH BARLEYWATER RUNS AWAY
AUTHOR: JOHN BOYNE
Details: Juvenile Fiction (9-12)
Very early one morning, 8 year old Noah runs away from home. There are things happening in his life that he doesn't understand and scare him. Going out into the world, looking for adventure seems a far easier prospect than staying at home and facing whatever it is that has him so scared.
Almost as soon as his old home is out of sight the world through which he travels changes a bit. Strange things are happening, but Noah doesn't question them and just moves on.
When he finds an old toy shop next to a slightly strange tree he goes inside and finds himself walking into a wonderful world filled with wooden toys and magic. Here he also finds the old toymaker.
The boy and the old man spend the day talking. The old man shares stories of his life as a young man with Noah, and Noah starts talking about his own past and the place and people he left behind.
There are two secrets in this book: the reason Noah ran away and the identity of the old man. Both secrets are slowly revealed as the story moves along, and by the time Noah leaves the old man again, everything has been made clear to the reader. Or has it?
This is a charming story. It deals with a very real issue that some children have to face in a sensitive but not sentimental manner.
I've got a feeling that adults will have the two secrets worked out a while before children do, but I don't think that matters.
In fact, I think it would be wonderful to read this book with a child and to witness understanding reaching them. To watch as they figure out what exactly is going on and then see their reaction to it. I highly recommend this book by the author of "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas".
John Boyne really knows how to tell a good story well.