The Runaways

  • Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 5
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

The Runaways is an inter-generational adventure filled with warmth and humor from one of the world’s great writers for children.

Grandpa hates being in hospital. He thinks only of the place he was happiest—the island where he used to live. He wants to go back, but they won’t let him out of the hospital.

So Gottfried Junior, his namesake, helps Grandpa make a plan to run away. They think of everything. Their deception is so complete that when Gottfried Junior finally decides to tell the truth, no one believes him.

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Interest Level Kindergarten - Grade 5
Reading Level Grade 2
Category SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: D Relationship Skills, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2019
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Gecko Press ™
Language English
Number of Pages 144
Publication Date 2019-04-02
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV013030, JUV039030, JUV039130
Dewey [Fic]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 5.75 x 8.25
Lexile 480
ATOS Reading Level 3.6
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 501144
Accelerated Reader® Points 2.0
Features Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews

Author: Ulf Stark

Ulf Stark (1944-2017) is one of the world's great writers. He is author of more than 30 books for children and has won many prizes for his stellar work. He was shortlisted for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2018.

Illustrator: Kitty Crowther

Kitty Crowther lives in Belgium. With English and Swedish parents, and born in Brussels, she has written and illustrated over forty books which have been translated into twenty languages and won many awards. In 2010, she received the world's most prestigious prize for children's literature: the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.


  • 2021 Sakura Medal Longlist, Long-listed, 2021
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2020
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2020
  • Booklist Editors' Choice, Winner, 2019
  • Kirkus Best Middle-Grade Book, Winner, 2019


The Horn Book Magazine

“[E]very emotional effect is full earned, and the final beat. . . .is deeply affecting.”—The Horn Book Magazine

The New York Times

The Runaways is flat-out hilarious. And shocking. And weird.”—The New York Times


“An unusual adventure story with a core of mutual grandfather-grandson affection.”—starred, Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“Stark straightforwardly conveys family tensions, end-of-life concerns, and intergenerational adoration alongside an archipelago’s worth of vivid details . . .”—starred, Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“A touching, realistic, gently humorous story of how a sensitive boy copes with his treasured grandfather’s decline.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews