On the Run by Tristan Bancks; Farrar Straus Giroux, 227 pages ($16.99) Ages 12 and up.
An Australian author with a background in filmmaking offers an edge-of-your seat thriller, a survival adventure and a nuanced portrait of a 12-year-old boy wrestling with profound questions of identity, torn between his dream of becoming a police officer and his loyalty to his criminally inclined father in “On the Run.”
Ben and his 7-year-old sister find themselves on the run with their parents, hiding out in a rundown cabin in the woods after the police come calling one day. While Ben and Olive have a loving mother, their dad is a rough customer, constantly taunting Ben about his weight. Then Ben discovers money hidden in a bag in the cabin and the real reason the police are chasing them. The author has a gift for page-turning suspense, as Ben and Olive find themselves on their own fleeing through the wilderness.
The novel was published in Australia with the title “Two Wolves” a reference to the parable about the battle between good and evil raging inside everyone.
– Jean Westmoore
Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead; Neal Porter Book/Roaring Book Press ($18.99)
A walk with the dog turns into a whimsical meditation about the wonders of nature and how the inspiration for storytelling can come from the familiar, even the mundane, in this marvelous picture book from Philip Stead, author of 2011 Caldecott Medal book, “A Sick Day for Amos McGee.” He confesses: “I have to write a story today but today I don’t have any ideas.” A walk with his dog, named Wednesday, is a routine involving visits with a painted turtle named Frank (“I hope he looks forward to these smidgeons of time we share”) or a friendly neighbor named Barbara, his former landlord (who didn’t mind at all that he spilled a giant blue blob of paint on the sidewalk: “How wonderful, a blue horse” she said). There is also the delight of a train rumbling by: “You should never walk on train tracks,” but they do anyway. The photo collage illustrations are gorgeous.
– Jean Westmoore