Regular readers will know how much I love David Almond by how many of his books end up being reviewed here at Making Them Readers. Yesterday I found ‘Harry Miller’s Run’ in the library and even though I have already read it as part of Almond’s wonderful: ‘Half A Creature From the Sea’ collection, I brought it home to see what publishing it as a stand alone story could do for it.
Firstly, I must mention the absolutely beautiful illustrations by Salvatore Rubbino. These reminded me in places of Lowry’s paintings, but for me, are much more vivid and lively. I particularly loved the double page spread of the runners in the modern Great North Run towards the end of the story. The illustrations gave a real sense of movement to the story, as well as bringing alive the joy that bubbles along, even under the sadness.
Secondly, publishing it as a standalone story makes it much more accessible to slightly younger readers, who might otherwise be daunted by a whole novel. It makes a fantastic taster for what Almond can offer in his long form work.
Harry Miller’s Run tells the story of young Liam, who is entering the Great North Run for the very first time with his friend Jacksie. He’s full of excitement when his running number arrives, and wants to go to Jacksie’s house and practice. His mum asks him to postpone it for a while and come with her to see Harry Miller, an elderly neighbour who she has been looking after, and who is due to go into a care home the following day.
Liam reluctantly agrees, but that afternoon he listens in amazement as Harry shares with him the story of his own Great North Run from many years ago.
This is a wonderful story. It brims with life and Harry’s story is so vividly recounted and with such sympathy and love, that it brings a lump to your throat to read it. I loved the connection between Liam and Harry and how it reminds us that our memories and stories can span generations in a few short moments. I particularly enjoyed the last page, which tied the two stories together in a marvellous twist to the tale that made me cry.
This is a great edition of the story and would make a terrific story to share in a classroom, as well as at home. There is so much here to discuss and think about and learn from, both in terms of topic and how to construct a narrative. It would also make a wonderful gift for a child, boy or girl, aged 7-11.