First of all, this is a slightly different review in that I read 'Armistice Runner' as part of a 10K charity run in my garden to raise money for NHS Charities Together. Someone on Twitter suggested this book and I am so glad I selected it. Not only is Tom Palmer a thoroughly decent man to donate and support my challenge, but he's also a hugely talented author. Last year I loved 'D-Day Dog' and 'Armistice Runner' is just as brilliant. It is a wonderfully poignant, emotional story about honour, courage and family linking the First World War to the present day. I welled up at its end. It's a real triumph, and the perfect accompaniment for a run!
Lily wants to win her fell-running race against her opponent Abbie but she's worried she doesn't have it in her to do so. But when her Gran, who is suffering from Alzheimer's, opens up about Lily's great-great-grandfather, who served in the First World War, her perspectives on family, competing and courage will completely change. And will reading about Ernest's diaries help her to connect with her Gran and win her own race?
'Armistice Runner' is a wonderful story, beautifully-layered in its exploration of memory, loss and courage, emotionally resonating across time and place. Every page of it accompanied me on every length of running I did in my garden. There is something really meta about reading about a runner who is reading about a runner in the First World War. The rhythm of Palmer's passages about running, about attacking each length, matched the rhythm of my own run. When things got tense, such as when Lily runs to find her Gran or when Ernest runs to send the message of ceasefire, my muscles ached while adrenaline surged. When I ran the last 1K down my road, as neighbours cheered me on with claps and clangs of pans, armistice was announced - the war was over. The book was like a marathon of emotions: intrigue, thrills, worries, excitement and poignancy that made me well up. At the end, the deceptively simple meeting between Ernest and a German soldier is one of the most affecting moments in children's fiction I have probably ever read. Tom Palmer makes every word count, every word beat, every word resonate, pound, ache. I really admire what he does.
I'm so grateful this book was in my hands while I was running. During this pandemic, we often remember other crises that have rocked civilization, such as war. No matter the outcome, there are always brave people on the front-line, whether in trenches or in hospitals. It is vital we remember them, and today that means remembering what the NHS is doing for us each day. We need to support them. That is why I decided to run with a book. I have raised over £1100 with gift aid and I'm just so pleased I did it with 'Armistice Runner' in my hands, linking our present circumstances to the past. Thanks again Tom for your support and for writing such a brilliant book. I will be singing this book's praises for years to come in both the classroom and everywhere I run. Cheers!
You can still donate to my run here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CHRISSOUL