Only a week ago the Readings Children’s Book Prize shortlist was announced (here!), so I guess it’s a pretty easy segue to talk about Run, Pip, Run, which won the third ever Readings Children’s Book Prize one thousand years ago in 2016. It’s about Pip Sullivan, who’s just turned ten–literally that day–when Sully, her guardian and grandfather-type person, collapses on the floor. With Sully in hospital, the independent Pip tries to go about her everyday life, but since she’s ten the authorities have other, foster-carer, away-from-Sully type ideas. So Pip goes on the run, but not without heading into school anyway to secretly sit a test (because learning is super-important even when it doesn’t seem like it. That’s not a lesson the book is necessarily teaching, but I snuck it in here anyway.)
Pip is very industrious and observant, and finds herself some shelter and some useful friends, like a cat that seems to Know Things and a dog that is very Supportive, and a friend that lives on the streets and get her into places she probably shouldn’t. Pip tries hard to do the right thing – replacing things she’s taken, keeping in contact with the authorities when they start looking for her in the wrong direction – and it’s nice to have a hero who isn’t afraid to stick up for others as well as herself. Run, Pip, Run doesn’t shy away from sadness and reality and how life on the streets can be, but it’s also a good story about learning that some people can be trusted and some people keep secrets but you love them anyway. It’s a rollicking adventure of a good kid in a bad situation, and if you like it, there’s a sequel too!