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The Runaway


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A memorable story about tackling emotional family challenges and overcoming the desire to run away when feeling overwhelmed.

Cooper has crafted a story that is poignant, touching and will resonate with middle grade readers. It is a delicate balance between fictional tale and life lesson, that takes a difficult topic and makes it accessible to young readers who may be navigating through difficult situations. Young readers will connect to many of the character's emotional states and the desire to get away from their troubles.

Cooper's illustrations are hand painted, adding to the comforting feel of the book. They are full page paintings that are vibrant and vivid. The way she transferred the image of the canvas into the book makes it retain all of it's texture, giving it a three dimensional feel. I was tempted to run my fingers over the page to feel the ridges of the brush strokes.

The main character is wrestling with difficult emotions and challenges at home. He is sad and scared. He is tired of listening to his parents fight and dealing with a sister who constantly pesters him. The line "trying to be good all the time was exhausting" was a particularly moving line that so many people have felt and will fully understand. The main character runs away, as much mentally as physically, and transforms into different animals, embodying the characteristics that will help him escape his life. He turns into a horse, galloping away. Them he becomes a wolf, eagle and dolphin, all of these creatures taking him further away from his family. He eventually comes to a deserted island and becomes a boy again. He sits on the sand and realizes that he is lonely. He discovers that despite the troubles, he misses his family and loves them deeply. He heads home, thinking of all the positive things his family brings to his life.

So many children need to learn how to navigate the frustrations and annoyances we can feel with family members. From parents to siblings, family can be our biggest support, and also the cause of some of our biggest conflicts. This tackles big social and emotional issues in a way that helps readers understand the desire to leave their lives behind and the allure of running away, but also showing that we can't just run away from our problems. Life can be overwhelming sometimes and we can feel like it is all too much to handle. Sometimes we do need a break and that is okay, but we always have to come home to the family who loves us.

This would be a great addition to a classroom library or for a school counselor. Families may also enjoy having this as a book to read aloud and discuss. Definitely one that children should read. This book is not at a lower level that beginning readers could read independently but advanced readers around the second or third grade level could tackle this on their own. Still, reading as a family or as a class will give an adult an opportunity to direct the conversation around this book since the themes and subject matter are so important.

Reviewed by

Daniele's travels have taken her around the world and back again, but her favorite adventures will always be found between the covers of a good book. She is now a farm girl with her horse trainer husband. Daniele loves all things Outlander and Disney and can't grow a garden to save her life.


Fighting parents. A pestering sister. Making mistakes. For this frustrated boy, trying to be good all the time is exhausting. When he tries to get away from it all by running away, will he find the peace he is looking for? Artfully written by Marianne Cooper and featuring her dreamlike and painterly illustrations, picture book The Runaway conveys that running away from our big feelings is never the answer.

Sad, scared, and worried, the boy’s emotions make him feel that he needs to get away from it all, to find a calm and peace that eludes him at home. It is too much for him to bear.

As he runs, he transforms into strong, brave creatures that can take him faster and farther—a powerful horse galloping through a field, a massive wolf bounding with ease through the forest, a majestic eagle soaring away through the sky, and more. The further he runs, the further he gets away from everything he wishes to forget. He finally gets as far enough away as he can and he is all alone. But this loneliness, is it what will bring him peace, after all?

About the author

A writer before she could even write, children’s book author Marianne Cooper would draw pictures as a child and record her stories on a portable recorder. She was aspired to be an author ever since. Marianne gets her book ideas from everyday life, her children, and even her pets. view profile

Published on October 20, 2021

0-1000 words

Genre: Children's

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