The Runaway

The Runaway

by Glen Huser
     
 

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It's 1923 and Leroy is on the run from a couple of abusive cousins. He stumbles into a traveling Chautauqua show, where it's easy to get lost in a crowd—but also easy to lose your heart. This funny and endearing novel by Governor General's Award-winning novelist Glen Huser will make an absorbing read for fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds, boys and girls alike.

Overview

It's 1923 and Leroy is on the run from a couple of abusive cousins. He stumbles into a traveling Chautauqua show, where it's easy to get lost in a crowd—but also easy to lose your heart. This funny and endearing novel by Governor General's Award-winning novelist Glen Huser will make an absorbing read for fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds, boys and girls alike.

Editorial Reviews

Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries (SWON)
"Huser's writing style is simple with a vocabulary that is interesting without being too challenging. This piece of historical fiction vividly captures 1920s America through the heartwarming story of a young man who has lost everything...I would definitely recommend this book to both middle school and high school aged teens."
Historical Novel Society
"This first-person account by a good-hearted hero is the perfect guide through a charming and little-known piece of Americana. The style is plainsong poetry, and the story both evocative and heartrending. Highly recommended."
Children's Literature - Patrice Russo Belotte
After the death of his father, Leroy and his mother venture off to seek refuge with his aunt and cousins. Aunt Alvina was welcoming enough, but it was cousins Albert and Virgil who did not show the same amount of good grace. Destined to fulfill an old debt of his fathers, Leroy is put to work by his cousins. For over a year, he does all that he is asked in fear of what will happen to him if he doesn't. The passing of his mother brings about a sense of urgency and fear in Leroy. Destined for freedom, he steals a horse from his cousins and runs away. However, his path doesn't take him far until he is attracted by the laughter and lights of a traveling Chautauqua. Intertwined with a forgotten piece of America's history, Huser paints a vivid description of the Chautauqua shows that used to travel and entertain rural America. Set in the 1920s, this traveling-circus of sorts provides a new world for Leroy and allows him to be creative. Building upon a keen skill for drawing, Leroy finds a place within the show and is instantly caught up in the daily goings on of the show and its' cast. Leroy allows himself to become part of the show, helping set up tents, drawing caricatures of the patrons, making friends, and getting caught up in the drama and excitement. Unfortunately, the excitement he feels keeps entangling itself with a deep sense of dread and worry. Each stop seems to take him further away from his cousins, but deeper into trouble. Huser has created a relatable and exciting character in Leroy, as well as a vivid setting for the reader to imagine. Leroy's story would also provide a contrasting historical context to a pre-World War I lesson in a history classroom, coinciding with literature about The Harlem Renaissance and the "Roaring ?20s." Reviewer: Patrice Russo Belotte
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Leroy "Doodlebug" Barnstable is willing to do anything to get away from his abusive cousins. When, in 1922, his father dies and leaves the 15-year-old and his mother homeless and nearly broke, they go to live with Aunt Alvina and her grown sons. Leroy learns that his mother has given the rest of their funds to cousins Virgil and Albert Grimble for "safekeeping." However, she soon dies, and Albert scoffs at the notion that he owes Leroy anything. Enraged, the teen steals some money, borrows a horse, and escapes the clutches of the hated Grimbles. His journey finds him in the company of a hobo who first befriends and then robs him, leaving him injured in the process. After these setbacks, Leroy is taken in by Ambrose Poindexter, the leader of a traveling Chautauqua. He becomes enchanted with lovely Maggie, who enlists his help with the children and encourages his artistic abilities. The story has a happy ending, but the climax is disappointing. Most of the time Leroy comes across as younger than his nearly 17 years, and it's hard to imagine that Maggie would be interested in him. Still, readers will find the story of the Chautauqua entertaining.—Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A teenage near-orphan comes of age in a Depression-era Chautauqua—a "week-long extravaganza of entertainment and educational enlightenment" that traveled to towns that could cover the cost of putting on the programs. When his father dies and his mother is severely injured in a car crash, 14-year-old Leroy "Doodelbug" Barnstable goes off to live with his Aunt Alvina and his cousins Virgil and Albert. But his cousins are abusive, and Leroy soon runs off. Leroy had lived a pretty ordinary life until that "topsy-turvy year," and that Chautauqua summer is a life changer. Musicians, magicians, storytellers, comedians, actors and actresses perform all day long, and Doodlebug earns his keep by putting the artistic skills that are the source of his nickname to work in entertaining the little kids who arrived each day. Doodlebug gets to travel, meet new people and fall in love. The first-person narration lets readers in on his new experiences and feelings, and soon Doodlebug feels like an old friend, and the world of the Chautauqua circuit comes alive. Intrigue, romance and fun leaven this tale of a good-hearted runaway boy beginning to find his way in the world. This likable protagonist makes for a fine introduction to an era before movies and radio caused the Chautauqua to fade away. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781896580210
Publisher:
Tradewind Books
Publication date:
03/01/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
147
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Glen Huser’s novels for young readers have been highly praised and have won a number of awards, such as the Mr. Christie’s Silver Award, the Governor General’s Award and the R. Ross Annett Award. For more information, visit www.glenhuser.com.

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