Book Title: Armistice Runner
Author: Tom Palmer
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Date: September 2018
Best-selling author Tom Palmer has a track record of bringing together his passions for sport and history in popular stories with a high appeal in primary schools. His new story, Armistice Runner, brings into the spotlight messenger runners on the front line of World War I and is perfectly timed to celebrate the Armistice centenary this November. As with all of Tom’s books published by Barrington Stoke, these books are ‘super-readable’ due to their accessible layout including a dyslexia-friendly font and tinted paper.
The front line of the First World War couldn’t seem further away from Lily’s modern day life. Lily is a young girl who enjoys running in fell races and filling in the details in her running log. Lily has her own battles to fight, as she worries about finishing behind her running rival Abbie, putting up with her annoying younger brother and, most worryingly, attempts to come to terms with her gran’s Alzheimer’s.
During an emotional visit to her gran’s house, Lily manages to connect with her gran over her interest in running and is pleasantly surprised to receive a box of running logs that once beloved to her great-great-grandfather, Ernest. Among the papers Lily discovers detailed diaries from Ernest’s time as soldier in the First World War.
Intrigued, Lily becomes quickly drawn into Ernest’s first-hand account of his journey from being a young fell-runner just like Lily to signing up to fight on the front lines in France. As she works through the diary, events at her gran’s house cause her to pause between reading different parts of Ernest’s story. The two stories begin to alternate, with parallels cleverly drawn between each one. Desperate to read more but unwilling to share the diaries with her family just yet, Lily keeps her discovery to herself but is easily able to relate to the mirrored themes of family, running, loss and coping with rivalry. Despite being alive 100 years after his story took place, Lily feels a strong connection to Ernest and finds that his experiences give her strength to face her own struggles.
This is a wonderful story to use in the classroom to explore the history of World War 1. The narrative is compelling and perfectly pitched to bring the big themes of war to young readers without being either too frightening or too reductive. By linking the historical aspect of the story to a modern day character in a familiar setting and emphasising the relatable, human aspects of one soldier’s experiences, Tom has skilfully crafted a way for young readers to connect with an event that could too easily seem a world away from them.
Tom Palmer also has some supporting materials on his website and offers school visits. To find out more visit http://tompalmer.co.uk/armistice-runner.
Look out for our Armistice themed booklist compiled by Tom Palmer too!
Many thanks to the publisher for kindly sending me a review copy of this book.