By Victor Canning
The Runaways, has it really stood up to the test of time? Absolutely and this is a gorgeous re-release of this wonderful page-turning adventure story. It even has a great quote by favourite children’s author – Dan Smith on the cover.
It’s a very memorable story, which is great for reading for pleasure. I snapped up the opportunity to review it because even I remember it and all the creative things our primary school teacher (primary 7, Scotland/year 6, England), came up with so we could write creatively and create our own plays. It lends itself beautifully to imaginations that run wild. It is just perfect for children who are reading books at Middle Grade level to escape into. Victor Canning, the author had quite a story to tell too. There’s a short paragraph about him after my review.
Find out more in the blurb and then onto my review. Thanks to Random Things Tours and publishers Farago for inviting me to review and for gifting me the book.
On a night of wild storms, two troubled figures escape from captivity. One is a 15-year-old boy, Samuel Miles, a.k.a. ‘Smiler’, wrongly convicted of theft and sent to a young offenders institution. The other is a cheetah, Yarra, a restless resident of Longleat Wildlife Park.
Both are in danger from the outside world – and each other – but somehow their lives become inextricably bound up as they fight for survival on the edge of Salisbury Plain.
A fast-moving and compassionate adventure story, The Runaways is the first book in Victor Canning’s classic children’s trilogy.
‘Victor Canning is one of the world’s finest story-tellers’ Good Housekeeping
A delightful tale by a brilliant thriller writer’ Daily Mirror
‘Smiler proves himself to be a resourceful, resilient and very likeable leading character.’
Dan Smith, author of Big Game and Boy X
Smiler (Samuel Miles, 15 years and 5 months old) isn’t into school. It just doesn’t appeal to him, so he runs away. He does get himself into some trouble here and there, starting in Bristol, England, where he lives.
The adventure takes readers to Longleat Safari Park, which is vast and beautifully described and really, all the writing throughout is excellent. The safari park is also where intrepid readers meet Yarra, who is a cheetah, who also wants to escape his confines and explore the great big world. There’s excitement and much trepidation in The Runaways that makes it quite the page-turner, that takes readers on quite the adventure and not just in the safari park, but also to where the army are and onto grounds where land wardens are.
The book is absorbing with great characters that I believe children will really like, and it was many years after its first publication when I first read it and reading it again, it is as relevant and as gripping as it ever was, with likeable characters who have to survive out in the wild. It’s relevant because it shows resoucefulness and resilience in times of trouble and having to do that or I guess the alternative would be to crumble, is as steadfast and necessary now as it ever was and will be, even in the future.
There is a spot of nostalgia for any adults reading this by way of Woolworths, which of course doesn’t exist in the UK in physical stores anymore, but essentially, it is wonderful that this book has been republished for a whole new generation of children, who I believe will get a lot out of it too.
Book 2 is Flight of the Grey Goose, where Smiler is still on the run and jumps on a train to Scotland and sounds just as exciting and another great adventure for readers to persue.
About the Author
Victor Canning was a prolific writer throughout his career, which began young: he had sold several short stories by the age of nineteen and his first novel, Mr Finchley Discovers His England (1934) was published when he was twenty-three. It proved to be a runaway bestseller. Canning also wrote for children: his trilogy The Runaways was adapted for US children’s television.