Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Runaways by Ulf Stark

I requested this book from the amazing team at Walker books, because it sounded heart-warming and emotionally charged. I have been loving middle-grade fiction lately. I love the way that it broaches tough and controversial subjects with a gentleness that younger readers can appreciate, to be able to understand and process. I am also enjoying the change from the hustle and bustle of Young Adult (YA) fiction. Although, I do sense this book has an underlying sadness, we don’t yet know why Grandpa is in hospital, I sense some tears in my future.

As always, here is your disclaimer, this review may contain spoilers, if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, please head to my spoiler-free, GoodReads review HERE.

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The Runaways by Ulf Stark. Illustrated by Kitty Crowther

4/5 Stars.

Published  April 2nd 2019 by Gecko Press

GoodReads

 

 

 

 

The illustrations are gorgeous, the colours are so emotive, the scenes jump out at you, off the page. I am ready to dive in!

Gottfried Junior, the boy in this story, is a fire cracker! I love his enthusiasm and his devotion to his grandpa, especially his attitude towards his grandpa’s grumpiness. Gottfried Junior believes it makes his grandpa interesting, while everyone else thinks it is horrible.

Gottfried Junior has this whole town wrapped around his little finger! But hit enthusiasm is infectious, so it is no wonder everyone wants to help him. Just a boy, with so much love for his grandpa, it makes you want to join his cause.

Grandpa is hilarious, he reminds me of my pop in so many ways, the sense of humour mostly. He represents the whole group of people born in his era, represents all of the grandpas. He is honest and a little rude, but that is okay when you’re a grandpa. I am sensing some underlying sadness though.

Poor grandpa, he misses his wife. This book is hitting me a little too close to home, having a similar thing happen to my family recently. My heart is breaking as I read about this strong old man, wanting to make a jar of jam last the rest of his life because his late wife made it. When we think of loved ones were lost it is funny the little things that you hold on to.

I am so glad that they made it back to Grandpa’s house. But I hate to think of the trouble that they will be in when they return and when Gottfried’s parents learn of his trickery!

The Runaways, is a short and sweet tale of a boy and his grandpa. It shows the power of love, of belief and the importance of family. It is written in such a light-hearted style that really allows the reader to lose themselves in the innocence of the tale. It is fast paced and touching.

The sad element I was sensing, didn’t really come. It was written gently, how grandma was waiting for Grandpa at their house, it was more of a joyous coming home, rather than a sad death, which I think is so important for young readers to see. It may help them with their own loss or losing of a grandparent.

The Runaways was a fast read, the pacing kept pages flipping through my fingers, but not before I had the chance to admire the stunning illustrations. It is written innocently, in such a way that people from all ages will appreciate it.

 

Do you like Middle-Grade fiction? If so, tell me your favourite MG read in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Julie.

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Cloud Boy by Marcia William

Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to Walker Books Australia, Georgie, specifically. I have read so many amazing titles from this fantastic company this year, and I am so greatful for the opportunity to be able to read some fantastic Aussie fiction.

This review does contain spoilers, if you haven’t read it (and you really should), please click THIS link, and read my spoiler-free Good review!

 

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Cloud Boy by Marcia Williams

Published  April 4th 2019 by Walker Books

GoodReads

This bloggers star rating: 4/5 Stars

 

 

 

 

Let me begin with what an engaging cover! The shorter length of this book is inviting especially as this is a middle-grade book. It sounds incredibly moving and thought provoking. I can’t wait to start!

The second you open the cover of this book, everything is super-cute and fun. I love the cloud illustrations on the title page, giving you the names and shapes of different clouds.

Okay, this is awesome! It is presented as Angies diary! What a wonderful touch, it gives the reader a feeling of being closer to the protagonist, as though we were her trusted friend. I am smiling so much already and I haven’t even started reading yet!

Cloud Boy, is magical. It has so many facets that go deeper than two friends, loving their new treehouse. I am scared, there is already talk of Harry’s headaches and I am not prepared for the sadness of it.

The element of Grandma Gertie is amazing. What a great way to incorporate a touch of history into a middle-grade title! It softly shows the reader about being a Prisoner of War (POW) as a child and how scary it was to live through it. The letters to Grandma Gerties Kitten are a gorgeous touch, making it seem more real and relateable.

I love how this book is written, Angie has such a tremendous energy, her words leap off the page, daring you to read on.

P.S I am so jealous of their treehouse.

This book is breaking my heart. It is so innocent. The emotions you feel while reading about children reacting to and interpreting hospitals, operations and parents is surprising. Reading Angie’s point-of-view is incredibly moving and sad. All she wants is to make sure her friend is okay, she even shaved her head to match Harry, but she feels duped and rejected because the adults in her life won’t allow her to see him…. On that note, I truly hope that Harry is okay, that his parents aren’t hiding him because he isn’t recovering well.

I am really enjoying reading about Grandma Gertie’s letters and her courage during the war. I am a huge history buff, so this kind of thing really gets my happy place, buzzing! I think it really pushes what this book is all about. Courage and friendship, being strong and supporting your loved ones, when things get scary and hard.

I’m even learning about clouds, who knew there were so many different types!

I adore how this book captures the impulsivity and fluidity of childood friendship. How tiny things can cause you to be unfriended but all is forgiven aftger a good night’s sleep.

This book is going to break your heart, just as it has broken mine. I didn’t expect that Harry wouldn’t get better. But for him to pass away, at home, surrounded by his loved ones is a gift that not many people receive. Angie knew at the end. She hid under her bed, hiding from the reality that her best friend wouldn’t be around much longer. Avoiding going to see him. I am almost too scared to read the last twenty-ish pages. My heart can’t take anymore sadness.

Oh… that’s why Grandma Gertie held off on giving Harry the quilt! I don’t think I  have mentioned it, but when Grandma Gertie was a girl, stuck in the POW camp, her and the other girl guides made a quilt using scraps of material and cotton from the hems of their clothing, for their friend, for Christmas. It ended up being quite a famous quilt and it inspired Angie to make one, detailing her and Harry’s frienship, to make Harry feel better. But Grandma Gertie, kept saying it wouldn’t be ready for Harry for Christmas, and I think I know why. She knew that Angie would need the quilt more than Harry would. That Angie would need to be able to look back on all of the wonderful times that she spent with Harry, and their cloud watching in Artcloud (treehouse).

Reading about Angie’s greif is heartbreaking. Not oly is she trying to deal with her own pain, she has to deal with evertone elses as awell. Her greif is manifesting in anger, she is in full destruction mode and can’t help what is in her path. She didn’t mean to destroy Harry’s cloud journals, but they made her feel too much, they made her upset and angry and she couldn’t look at them anymore. But once she destroyed them, she regretted it and she lost the respect and friendship of Harry mum. Which is the very last thing that Angie needed at that stage in her greif.

What a heartwarming ending. Even though she is dealing with her own greif, Angie still has the strength to do something for other people, for Harry’s memory.

I am blown away that the historical element of Grandma Gertie’s quilt was actually based on fact. Just another amazing quality that this book has!

This book is such a fantastic way to teach younger readers about sickess hope, courage and loss. It shows how greif affects people differently and how families cope in different ways. It shows the importance of spending time with people, of facing them, even when you are scared, because you know it will make them feel better.

Angie’s character is incredible. She is a spitfire, filled with life and vigour. I have no doubt that she will grow up to be a glider pilot. Her character is so important because it shows every aspect of slowly losing your best friend, your way of life, and growing to accept it. Angie is smart, strong and emotional and that is what makes her so special.

Cloud Boy will draw you in with a writing style that won’t let you go. It is written as though it is Angie’s diart, which makes it easy to read, but also so easy to fall into the story and really feel what Angie is feeling. The pacing is perfect, at a solid mid-pace. Angie seems to talk/write very quickly though, so the latter sections add a slowness that the tale really needs.

A captivating tale that shows us an earth-moving friendship and the courage it takes to truly love another person.

I can’t reccommend this book enough. It is middle-grade, so you will find it easy to read, but it is amazing and you need it in your life.

 

Thanks for reading!

Julie