Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Harry Miller's Run

Harry Miller's Run

David Almond
For ages 8 to 10
Candlewick Press, 2017   ISBN: 978-0763689759

It is a Saturday morning and Liam’s racing bib has arrived in the post. In two weeks Liam and his friend Jacksie will be participating in the Junior Great North Run, and Liam is eager to go on a training run with his best friend.

Liam is therefore not best pleased when his mother announces that they have to go to Harry Miller’s house for an hour or two. Liam tells his mother that he doesn’t have time, but she insists that he goes with her.

Harry Miller has lived on Blenkinsop Street his whole life and he is a much loved member of the community. Harry is an old man but has always managed to get around, even after he had a heart attack. Now though the time has come for Harry to move out of his house and into a nursing home. He simply cannot go on living by himself.

Liam’s mam helped Harry to clear out his house and now most of the old man’s possessions are gone. Liam and Mam find Harry sitting in the almost empty house and they start start going through Harry’s boxes of papers while the old man dozes. They find Harry’s birth record, his final school report, apprenticeship papers, photographs, and lots of other documents. Then they find a photograph showing three boys and a girl on a beach and they are eating ice creams. Harry wakes up and he tells his guests the story behind the photograph.

One hot summer’s day when Harry is eleven Harry is with his friends Stanley and Norman. Norman talks about wanting to go for a swim and Stanley suggests that they go to Shields. Stanley has been to Shields with his uncle Jackie and he said that it isn’t far.

The boys set off at a trot, not know that by foot South Shields is thirteen miles away from Newcastle. They find out soon enough when they get to Felling train station. They are exhausted and have no idea where to go. Perhaps they should turn back.

Then the boys meet Veronica. She is hanging the family laundry on a washing line and Harry plucks up the courage to ask her for some water. Harry tells her that they were planning on running from Newcastle to South Shields but that they have decided to go back.

Veronica gets the boys some water and a snack and then she announces that “there’s no need to turn back” because she knows the way. She even offers to pay for the boys to get the train home. Then she asks “What are we waiting for?” and the boys have to choice but to follow her.

In this wonderful book young readers will experience a story that is heartwarming. It captures the wonderful connection that can exist between the young and the old. Though Harry’s story is a simple one, it is one that has an impact on Liam. Harry gives the boy a memory from the past that he will carry on into the future.