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Kid Konnection: Noah Barleywater Runs Away

June 25, 2011

There’s an issue at home that eight-year old Noah Barleywater doesn’t want to face, so he decides to run away.  After a while, he comes upon a toy shop that’s full of handmade wooden puppets and toys.  The store doesn’t seem to have any customers, but it’s full of magic thanks to its wonderful toymaker.

The toymaker invites Noah for a meal and tells Noah a story from his own childhood – an otherwise happy childhood marred by one big regret.  The encounter, and the story, change Noah and keep him from making the same mistake.

I had high hopes for Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne, because I thought The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, was so good, but I’m sad to say that it didn’t live up to those high expectations.  It’s not that the book was bad, it was that my expectations were set so high.

There’s a situation at home, that Noah isn’t brave enough to face.  (It’s foreshadowed throughout the book, so it really comes as no surprise at the end.)  I couldn’t help but feel for poor little Noah, having to face such a tragedy at eight years old, but I still wanted him to have the courage to face it head on, and I found myself rooting for him along the way.

I found parts of the book a little bit confusing and wonder how it would come across to the suggested age range of 9 to 12 year olds.  Of course, their minds might be more open to fantastical elements than mine is, so they might not have any problems following the story.  There are a few illustrations by Oliver Jeffers throughout the book, and they’re nice enough, but I’m not sure they added a lot to the story.

Noah Barleywater Runs Away is a re-telling of sorts of Pinocchio.  Since the only version of that story I’m familiar with is the Disney version, I’m not sure how this compares.   That may have been part of the problem for me as well, since I’m generally not a fan of fairy tale re-tellings.  Overall, I thought the book was good, but not great, but I have a feeling it might just be me.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.
15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2011 5:15 am

    Oh *headdesk* I did not put the names together. I do have his striped book but have not read it yet

  2. June 25, 2011 5:25 am

    I had enjoyed The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, so I am sorry to hear that this book doesn’t live up to the expectations. It’s disappointing when you expect so much from a book and then feel let down 😦

  3. June 25, 2011 6:07 am

    Hmmmm, I luv the name Noah Barleywater. Hate that it turned out so disappointing. Glad you let us know. Thanx.

  4. June 25, 2011 6:08 am

    My Agatha Christie is disappointing. I know that’s hard to believe. Not one dead body, and I’m over half way through the book. I want to throw it.

  5. June 25, 2011 6:10 am

    I see your currently reading THE HELP. I feel better. I should have read that book a long time ago. I would have it in my hands and something would…..I’ll just have to move it up again in my TBR. Hope you like it.

  6. June 25, 2011 6:51 am

    I understand perfectly how high expectations about a book can skew the way you ultimately feel about it; I think your review is very fair in that regard.
    I’m not much for fairy-tale retellings either, although I am somewhat curious now about what Noah was running away from.

  7. June 25, 2011 7:39 am

    This sounds interesting, but I don’t know if I would read it. As a child, when I watched the Italian movie version of Pinocchio it always left me with a sad feeling.

  8. June 25, 2011 8:03 am

    Hmmmmm….. I, too, had high hopes for this one. Booking Daughter doesn’t do much fantasy so it might not be for her either.

  9. June 25, 2011 8:41 am

    Generally I like fairytale retellings, but it’s very dangerous messing with a cultural icon like that!

  10. June 25, 2011 9:32 am

    I’m sorry you were disappointed in this one. But thanks for the review.

  11. June 25, 2011 4:18 pm

    I did have high hopes for this one too. I’m disappointed that it’s not fabulous as you hoped. I doubt it will work for me either since I was disappointed with Striped Pajamas as well.

  12. stacybuckeye permalink
    June 25, 2011 9:19 pm

    I checked out the audio of Striped Pajamas from the library but my hubby listened to it and then I had to return it. Guess I’ll try that one first!

  13. June 26, 2011 7:07 am

    I had no clue that it was somewhat at all related to Pinocchio. Still have to read this author though since Striped Pajamas has gotten such raves reviews.

  14. June 27, 2011 10:56 am

    Sorry this one wasn’t as good as you had hoped. It sounds interesting, but one that I’ll have to go in to without high expectations. I’m sure I would have since I enjoyed Striped Pajamas a lot too.

  15. June 29, 2011 6:18 am

    I read and loved The Boy in the Striped Pajamas too. I haven’t read Noah Barleywater yet. I remember reading reviews of it when it was released, and being really keen to read it. I haven’t got to it yet, but am still keen to give it a go. Expectations are a dreadful thing, and can certainly wreck enjoyment very easily. I didn’t realise it was a revisiting of Pinocchio. I just recently read the original Pinocchio, so it would be great to read this soon, while it is still somewhat fresh in my memory.

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