Grandpa has not been the same since Grandma died. He is angry. He swears and rings his hospital buzzer constantly. He annoys the nurses and angers Dad. Yet he reasons, Dad ‘was different from me.‘
Gottfried Junior sees all this. He tries to get Dad to understand, yet Dad avoids Grandpa’s hospital room. He denies Gottfried Junior a visit too, until Gottfried Junior is forced to lie. One demanding public transport journey and a muddied football kit builds into becoming something more. Gottfried Junior is certain that he can spring Grandpa from the hospital stranglehold. Together, they will be ‘The Runaways’.
‘The Runaways’ is honest, terse, raw writing. Gottfried Junior aches for the Grandpa he remembers, while realising his grandfather is fading, and yearning for his wife. The boy feels powerless to mend the divisions of difference and history between his father and grandfather. Gottfried Junior’s open heart, resilience and goodness shine like beacons.
Ulf Stark is winner of the German Youth Literature Prize and the Astrid Lindgren Prize. He was shortlisted for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2018. ‘The Runaways‘ is an exceptionally empathetic and thought-provoking title, enriched by Kitty Crowther’s moving images.