The Runaways


168 pages
ISBN 1-55074-413-5
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


The theme of good-hearted children who encounter curmudgeonly seniors
and eventually win them over is not new to juvenile literature; however,
Kristin Butcher wraps her treatment in the social realities of
contemporary Canada.

Nick Battle, 12, resents his mother’s new husband, Cole. When Carol
announces she is pregnant, a jealous Nick runs away. In his flight, he
encounters Luther, an elderly street person living in an abandoned
house. Nick ultimately befriends this seemingly well-educated man who
appears to have deliberately chosen to be one of Canada’s homeless.
Not satisfied with just friendship, Nick undertakes to discover
Luther’s real identity. He uncovers not only Luther’s successful
past, but also the family tragedy that shattered his idyllic life.

By the book’s end, Luther has confronted his demons and moved
forward, while Nick, who has become best buddies with his previously
despised stepfather, is looking forward to his sibling’s birth. That
Cole happens to be the editor of the local newspaper conveniently allows
him to champion Nick’s broader interest in the plight of street

Upper elementary readers who overlook the numerous plot coincidences
will be warmly entertained by this book. Recommended.


Butcher, Kristin., “The Runaways,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024,