I am hugely excited to be participating in the Children’s Book Award official blog tour in the books for older readers category again this year. It’s the only national book award to be voted for entirely by children from start to finish and as such makes the award even more noteworthy.
Today I’m championing Armistice Runner by Tom Palmer, published by Barrington Stoke. Tom has written some fantastic historical fiction titles and this is no exception.
Armistice Runner by Tom Palmer
Lily has lots of worries. Sheʼs struggling to compete in her fell-running races and, worse, sheʼs losing her gran to Alzheimerʼs. But then she discovers her great-great-grandfatherʼs diaries from the First World War. Could his incredible story of bravery help her reconnect with her gran and even give her the inspiration she needs to push through and win?
Lily is really fed-up with always finishing her beloved fell-races as a runner-up. At the end of every race, she just can’t seem to breakthrough the final barrier and push forward for the win. Endlessly frustrated, Lily’s worries are compounded by a visit to her grandparents and being faced with the reality that her wonderful grandmother is suffering with dementia. The impact her grandmother’s illness is having on her family becomes all too real – even Lily’s irritating little brother can see how different everything is and looks to her for comfort. A surprise discovery about her great-great-grandfather, Ernest, provides an unexpected escape and incredible connection with the past, offering Lily the inspiration she needs. For he too was a fell-runner and faced huge pain and suffering during the course of World War One. As his experiences come to life in the pages of his diaries, Lily starts to see that maybe she can get through her struggles and be like Ernest.
First and foremost this is a fantastic story – moving, engaging, thrilling, insightful – brilliant storytelling at its best. Bringing together two narratives, Armistice Runner provides an amazing insight into the fallen heroes of World War One alongside the experiences of Lily, whose family situation is causing great suffering. With themes of conflict, family, rivalry and perseverance you can’t fail to be moved. I knew nothing about fell-running prior to reading this story and found this aspect completely fascinating. I have read many stories set in World War One, but Armistice Runner brings a new perspective on the horrors of trench warfare and the suffering endured by those on the Front and those at home. Tom Palmer captures this brilliantly and the empathy that Lily feels for Ernest, perfectly mirroring her own sadness as her grandmother slowly fades through dementia. It was particularly moving to see how this horrible illness affected the whole family and the moments where Lily sees her father’s response to his mother’s decline will have your heart aching. As Lily reaches the end of Ernest’s diaries, she finally discovers what happened to him and is given the best example of perseverance, kindness and friendship.
Armistice Runner offers opportunities for readers to truly relate to the themes of conflict through the parallels drawn with fell-running and the determination, bravery, and grit required to complete a race. Endurance takes on new meaning as we see Ernest running through the trenches to save his fellow soldiers and escape the horrors of war. However, at no point is the story inaccessible to readers, on the contrary, it will help them gain a new understanding of World War One through the understanding it generates. With a great female protagonist in Lily and an inspirational hero in Ernest, Armistice Runner is the best combination of story, hope and empathy. I would highly recommend it and its place on the Children’s Book Award shortlist is thoroughly deserved.
You can reading the first chapter of Armistice Runner here and find out more about Tom Palmer here. As a Barrington Stoke title, Armistice Runner offers a truly accessible read, with a super-readable layout and typeface so that even more readers can enjoy it.
The Children’s Book Award is the only national award voted for solely by children from start to finish. Any child up to the age of 18 can visit to vote for their favourite books from the top 10. It is highly regarded by parents, teachers, librarians, publishers and children’s authors and illustrators as it truly represents the children’s choice. Thanks to the support of the publishers, over 1,000 new books are donated to be read and reviewed by Testing Groups across the country every year, with over 150,000 total votes being cast in the process. At the end of each testing year, nearly 12,000 books are donated to hospitals, women’s refuges, nurseries and disadvantaged schools by the Testing Groups. Previous winners of the award include, Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman, Quentin Blake, JK Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Rick Riordan.
With thanks to the Children’s Book Award for inviting me to participate in this wonderful award blog tour. Thank you to Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of Armistice Runner to review.