Note: Amazon shows the age group
for this book for readers 4 - 8
Barney and the Runaway is
for readers 8 and up.
Some online bookstores show the page count at 70
Barney and the Runaway is 130 pages
HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW - Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Did you ever want to run away and join the circus? Did you ever actually try it? Michael Ellis lives in Independence, MO, is waiting for his twelfth birthday, and has recently told his dad and mom that he wants to be called Mike from now on. But he has problems in school with not doing his work, and his parents always seem to be correcting him and telling him what to do, so he decides to teach them all a lesson by pretending to run away with his dog Barney. The two sneak out one night, intending to stay only long enough to scare his parents and make them appreciate him more, but the plan goes awry.
Mike and Barney climb into a railroad boxcar full of hay to spend the night, but they fall asleep and end up in Georgia with a circus. Fortunately, they are discovered by Big Bob the Clown and are taken to safety in his wagon. Big Bob tries to encourage the boy to get in touch with his parents, but Mike refuses. Barney is a smart dog, and his tricks earn him and Mike a part in the clown show at the circus. Mike begins to think that living and performing with the circus might be the answer to his problems. Meanwhile, someone is trying to sabotage the circus, and their plans might hurt Mike and Barney. Is there anything that they can do to thwart the plot? And will Mike learn anything from the story of Big Bob’s own unfortunate past that will help him understand that his parents truly love him?
Author Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a struggling, reluctant reader and knows exactly what will grab the attention of “tween” boys. I did this book as a read aloud for our fourteen-year-old son who said that it is great. There is much to commend it. Of course, it is filled with action, mystery, and excitement that will keep both boys and girls turning the pages to see what happens next. But there are also important lessons that children will be able to discern along with Mike, such as the importance of family and the fact that we often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. One thing which I especially like is Big Bob's belief that God brought Mike to him so that he could explain what had happened to him as a young boy and help the boy understand his own situation better. Barney and the Runaway is a marvelous adventure book for young people that gets kudos from me.
Publisher: Comfort Publishing, March 2011
This is the story of Michael Ellis' protest against his parents for always telling him what to do and punishing him all the time. His parents and teachers are threatening summer school if he doesn't shape up. Mike feels like everyone is against him, so he will just teach them a lesson and run away.
Mike's scruffy little mutt, Barney, tags along with him as they sneak out at night. They climb into a railroad boxcar that is parked on the track and fall asleep. When Mike wakes up to jerking and clanging, he realizes the train is moving, and the door is locked. No one can hear him yelling and banging to get out. Oh boy, now what? Mike didn't really mean to run away but when the train finally stops, he is many miles from home. How did he end up in Georgia with a circus? Fortunately, Big Bob, the Clown, takes Mike and Barney under his wing and gives them a spot to sleep in his wagon.
Big Bob is sure that God brought Mike to him so he could relate what happened to him as a young boy. An old clown named Arnold rescued him, gave him a place to live, and taught him how to be a clown. Bob had no parents, but Mike has loving Christian parents to guide him.
Mike thinks being in a circus will be great fun even though Bob explains to him that a clown sometimes paints on a happy face to cover a broken heart. The show must go on, and a clown's job is to make the customers laugh so Mike and Barney both get into the act.
Someone has been trying to cause the circus to close down, and Mike and Barney overhear robbers planning to rob the circus and burn it to the ground. He must help save his new friends and the wonderful circus that he has come to love.
Max Elliot Anderson is a master at giving us exceptional characters and fast moving, exciting adventures that are inspirational and still encourage reluctant readers to enjoy books that teach them the importance of doing what is right. The very special relationships of a boy and his dog, and then an old clown and a young boy, make this a heartwarming story along with conversation starter ideas about the love of parents you will want to share with your family.
Children's Fiction: Inspirational/Religious - Ages 9-12
Reviewer Beverly J. Rowe © MyShelf.com
Michael W. Ellis has a new ideal to live by, the Declaration of Independence. He's tired of doing what everyone else wants, and so he decides to run away. It seems like an adventure at first when he and his dog, Barney, wind up on a railroad car and then with a traveling circus. Big Bob takes to Mike and wants to make Barney part of the circus, since he has a very special talent that could draw crowds and make money.
The plot thickens, however, when some evil characters have other plans for Barney. When the threat grows, Mike thinks of all the times "if that hadn't happened" that have added up to one big mess. Big Bob, however, comes to the rescue but also tells Mike a story that changes everything. The bottom line is that plans go crazy and one must realize the consequences might not turn out for the best after all is said and done.
Barney and The Runaway is a great adventure story that is unpredictable and fascinating on every page. It's a great addition to the already terrific novels written by this very talented YA fiction author!!!
Posted by Viviane Crystal
Michael Ellis is a young man who lives in the city of Independence in the “Show Me” state, Missouri. Lately however, Mike acts as if he lives in the “Make Me” state. Michael dislikes that his parents are always telling him what to do and punishing him all the time when he disobeys. Even Mrs. Whitlock, Mike’s teacher, thinks he needs to be more disciplined and accountable for his assignments. Summer school is imminent if something doesn’t change.
Mike decides to teach everyone a lesson by running off with his best friend Barney, the scruffiest, little, mixed-breed mutt alive. Barney is believed to be a cross between an alley dog and a junkyard dog, and he often misbehaves, so perhaps this is why the boy and his dog get along so fittingly.
The plan of running away gets a bit more complicated than planned when Mike and Barney hide in a railroad boxcar, fall asleep, and end up in Georgia with a circus in the middle of the night. Luckily for the runaways, Big Bob the Clown takes Mike and Barney to safety in his wagon. Mike decides that living and performing with the circus might be a good idea until Big Bob opens Mike’s eyes to his unfortunate past. Bob tells Mike that a clown paints on a happy face to sometimes cover sadness. A clown may not always be as carefree as he appears, but the show must go on. It is Big Bob’s belief that God brought Mike to him so he could explain what happened to him as a young boy. Big Bob had to depend on an old clown named Arnold to rescue him, but Mike has loving Christian parents to guide him.
“Barney and the Runaway” is a meaningful story about doing what one is told to do. Parents often punish their children, but only because they love and want what is best for them, not because they don’t care. Even though the life of a circus performer with a circus family may appear fun, if given a choice, most would agree that living within the confines of a warm home with loving, caring parents is the preferred choice. As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” After Mike overhears some unsettling news and both he and Barney are involved in a scary and dangerous crime, Mike learns his lesson before it’s too late.
I enjoyed this moving piece by Max Elliot Anderson and can highly recommend it. Although written for the younger reader (age 10-12), everyone should enjoy it. The very special relationships of a boy and his dog, and then an old clown and a young boy, make this a tenderhearted tale.
Reviewed by Kelli Glesige for Reader Views