Select one of the keywords
Noah Barleywater Runs Away    by John Boyne & Oliver Jeffers order for
Noah Barleywater Runs Away
by John Boyne
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I picked up John Boyne's Noah Barleywater Runs Away because I had read and been highly impressed by The Boy In the Striped Pajamas. This is a very different sort of story though, one in which the line between reality and imagination is blurred, as readers view events through the mind of eight-year-old runaway Noah Barleywater.

We wonder why Noah has left home - he tells us it's 'something he didn't want to think about', though he does seem to dwell on memories of happy times with his mother. He has a series of minor adventures as he passes through villages. They involve a trembling apple tree; an early newspaper article; a strange tree, a talking dachsund, and a hungry donkey - and a most unusual toy shop, where every toy is made of wood.

Inside the magical shop is an elderly toymaker (whom readers will quickly recognize) and hundreds of extraordinary animated puppets. After lunch, the boy notices an ornate wooden box with special puppets inside, and the old man talks about his own bizarre childhood (involving bullies, running and royalty), prompting Noah to reveal more of his life ... which is when we learn that his mother has been very ill.

Though Noah Barleywater Runs Away grew on me, I'm not sure that it would suit its intended audience (ages 9-12). It seems too subtle and complex for most readers in that age range, though it would be an excellent choice for English class discussion and analysis.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Kids books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews