Reviews for Run Far, Run Fast

Booklist Reviews 2007 September #2
Treading a narrow line between picture book and graphic novel, Decker employs the strengths of both formats to convey a sense of desperation and, ultimately, hope. As the Black Plague encompasses fourteenth-century Europe, a young girl is freed from captivity by her mother and told to escape the town--and the plague itself. The power of the story springs from the book's picture-book simplicity of layout, composition, and text. The open space in the pictures, the brevity of the prose, and the darkness of the subject matter capture the isolation people feel in desperate times, but the story never loses track of the fact that, while there may be no assurances, there is power and hope in human kindness. Echoing issues examined in Decker's The Letter Home (2005), this profound tale best suits advanced readers prepared for its subtle, potent message. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 September #2
"Every year was the same until her tenth summer. The Pestilence entered the girl's world like a tide." Obeying her mother's command to "Run far, run fast," a child flees her plague-ridden village in this absorbing, if fragmentary, tale. The world she encounters is a troubled one--depopulated, ruled by terror, dangerous to traverse alone. Still, as she discovers, compassion survives. The brief text, presented in a hand-lettered-style font, links fine-lined pen-and-ink illustrations that are framed, on alternate pages, in multiple panels that can be "read" in any order. Though Decker creates convincing late-medieval backdrops, he dresses the young wanderer in clothing that looks modern, and he draws figures with such minimalism that the sex of the adult narrator, a doctor with whom the child eventually comes to live, is ambiguous; in consequence, the devastation and social breakdown here doesn't seem at all remote in time or place. A gripping episode, though the plot comes to such an abrupt end that it reads like the opening chapter of a longer work. (Graphic fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 November #1

If David Macaulay fictionalized medieval family life in a plague year, he might produce something like this solemn graphic narrative, set in 1348. In pen-and-ink panels notable for their architectural renderings, Decker describes "one small girl in a time of great fear," when "the gates of the city were locked to keep the Pestilence out." The anonymous girl, a carpenter's daughter, lives humbly, surrounded by windswept fields, sagging barns and thatch-roofed cottages. When her father falls ill and soldiers quarantine their home, the girl's mother helps her escape, saying, "Run far, run fast." Wandering along dirt roads, through wolf-infested forests, the girl seeks safety in fortified towns and with an enigmatic guardian, the narrator. Readers may guess the purpose of this man's birdlike mask; several people disaffectedly display the swollen nodes that signal plague. Throughout, Decker evokes the paranoid ambience, if not the gruesomeness, of death-ridden villages. Handwritten exposition appears on the verso pages, while uncaptioned, tightly spaced thumbnail sketches on the recto pages chart the girl's travels. But while Decker sets the stage gracefully, his drawings of people are awkward. Mitten hands and blank, oval faces suffice for secondary characters, but the central girl's face conveys only indistinct sorrow. As in his The Letter Home , an idiosyncratic account of WWI, Decker imagines a famously horrific situation and replaces terror with unsettling quietude. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 January

Gr 4 Up-- When the Pestilence strikes her father, a 10-year-old girl is told by her mother to, "Run far, run fast." Readers accompany her on a perilous journey of survival, and learn, just as she does, about the devastating effects of the plague. Decker combines elements of a picture book and graphic novel, alternating a more traditional text page with one of a central image surrounded by vignettes. Interestingly, the people are drawn with no mouths. Striking pen-and-ink illustrations tell more of the story than the spare text. For instance, on the opening page, a map of Western Europe with a fateful date in Roman numerals (1348) establishes the setting. Children are playing ring around the rosy on vignettes framing an image of the pope surrounding himself with fire in an attempt to ward off the plague. The grays and blacks convey the grim nature of the text, and nothing is spared in the illustrations. There are depictions of death and of the persecution of certain individuals thought to be responsible for the disease: stark images of people being put into barrels and floated downstream. Readers, along with the protagonist, may not understand all that is happening, but if they do go on to read about the Black Death, they will no doubt recognize events pictured here. The doctor is identifiable by his traditional medieval mask with a distinctive pointed nose. Though ineffective in combating or even understanding the plague, the man offers kindness and some small hope at the end of this book. An intriguing title.--Robin L. Gibson, Granville Parent Cooperative Preschool, OH

[Page 116]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.