Book Review: Run Wild


Run Wild

Written by Gill Lewis

96 pages

Published by Barrington Stoke

Publication date: 15th July 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Award-winning author Gill Lewis makes her debut to the Barrington Stoke list with a stunning tale of the wild that hides in us all. Run Wild is a thought-provoking and touching story that celebrates the unique bond between children and nature.

Barrington Stoke and Rewilding Britain will be working together on bringing Run Wild to the world, with charity endorsement and school events to follow. Find out more about Rewilding Britain’s work here:


Izzy and Asha need a space to call their own, away from difficult families, the Skull brothers and the trouble they bring. But the derelict building site where they stake their claim already belongs to something else, a wilderness they never expected and an injured wolf that desperately needs their help. Can they reconnect to the wild and save the wolf?

I was the first one to see the wolf.

Well, Connor saw it before me, but he only saw the back of its head.

Anyway, he doesn’t count because he’s my younger brother.

So I, Izzy Jones, was the first one to see the wolf.

I was the first one to look it in the eye.

But what was a wolf doing in an old empty power station in the idle of London?

It just shouldn’t have been there.

But then again, neither should we.

This is such an important book for young people today, and perhaps for all of us.

The story follows Izzy and Asha, two girls who live in London but have very little outdoor space in which to play. After being forbidden entry to the only place where they can practice skateboarding by two boys who are known to be ‘trouble’ they find themselves in a derelict building site. Yet, amongst the rubble, wildlife is finding a way to creep back, from tiny beetles to a wolf.

This story talks about the importance of being free to roam and explore this wonderful world and our connection with the ‘wild’. It is an engaging, fast-paced story with realistic characters and just enough information about ‘rewilding’ to spark an interest in finding out more! I have already been reading the blog on the Rewiliding Britain website and learning more about the amazing beetles mentioned in this book.
I have always been fascinated by the way the natural world manages to fit around the edges of our human habitats and just how quickly great civilizations can disappear beneath jungle and creepers.

This story reads like a manifesto for us to take the time to look around us and appreciate the wonders of nature around us. How often do you take the time to just ‘be’ in a green space, experiencing the tiny movements of insects, feeling the sunshine on your face and listening to the wind rustling the leaves?

How many children are growing up in an urban jungle where their only experiences of nature are on the other side of a TV screen or in the confines of a zoo? The children in this book find sanctuary and an adventure in an area of the city that others dismiss as a ‘wasteland’. Yet all it takes is someone looking closely to realise just how much life and diversity there is in this ‘wasteland’

I can already tell that this will be a popular book in my class library due to the subject matter (we love animals and wolves are pretty cool!) and the appealing appearance of the font (dyslexia-friendly), cover and length (not too intimidating). Add this to your classroom’s shelf and be prepared to raise the next generation of conservationists!

I feel my body sink against the small stones and soft grass. I dig my fingers deep into the earth and it’s as if everything is draining out of me. I lie still and listen to the lap of small waves from a riverboat and the pop of seed heads bursting in the heat.

Everything is quiet.

Everything is still.

For the first time in a long while I feel I can breathe.

What I liked: The environmental message, the way so much story is packed into so few pages, the main characters and their relationships, the adults who listened to them and particularly the old ladies! Gill Lewis is able to evoke so much about a person in relatively few sentences, instantly creating characters about whom you can really care.

Even better if: I wanted more! I have only recently discovered Gill Lewis’s writing but am now working my way through her back catalogue. (Recently I have read A Story Like the Wind and Sky and Sky Dancer and they were both exceptional!) I hope that there will be many more books like this in the future!

How you could use it in your classroom: This is the perfect length for a Year 2, 3 or 4 child reading independently or for reading aloud over a short period. The font in the books is designed to be dyslexia-friendly which is great. Even if a child does not have an official diagnosis of dyslexia, the tinted pages and spacing of the font make it easier on the eyes so could help many children.

See more information about this from Barrington Stoke here:

Dyslexia is a learning difference that can affect the ability to read, write and spell. Speech, maths, motor and organisational skills may also be affected. People with dyslexia are no less intelligent than their peers but they may have different strengths and need different support to realise their full potential.
Our books are designed to help, with:

  • Tinted pages to reduce visual stress, which may be more common in people with dyslexia and can make words seem to jump or dance on the page
  • A special font that helps prevent people with dyslexia confusing letter shapes
  • Special spacing to help minimise confusing, blurring and switching
  • Thick paper to make sure words and pictures don’t show through from other pages and confuse the eye
  • Special editing to help minimise barriers to comprehension. This process was developed by dyslexia and speech and language experts in response to research and feedback from thousands of readers on hundreds of Barrington Stoke manuscripts over the years.

People who struggle with reading can experience low self-esteem and even depression as a result. We believe that no child or adult should have to read books written for children many years younger than themselves. We pitch our stories at the real age of the reader, not their reading ability.

Don’t miss my interview with Gill, coming up soon!

(Thank you to Barrington Stoke for an early review copy of this book!)

While you’re here, why not check out my reviews of Flower Moon, Shadow Weaver, How to Catch a Witch or Ban This Book?

Find me on Twitter , Goodreads or Instagram

Thanks for reading!

19 Comments Add yours

  1. I haven’t read this (yet), but I have really enjoyed a few of the author’s others, such as Sky Hawk and Scarlet Ibis, so I definitely want to at some some point. Really want to read Sky Dancer too!
    Amy x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sky Dancer was excellent! I have Gorilla Dawn sitting next to me at the moment and am gradually reading the others. Run Wild is a quick read, but has a lot packed into it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve not read that one! Hope you enjoy it, and the rest of her back catalogue (especially the ones I enjoyed.). Also, I feel it is only fair to warn you that Moon Bear basically broke me when I read it. I found it so upsetting (when I was younger) I don’t think I could finish it 😭

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh dear, I will probably be reduced to a puddle! I cried at Sky Dancer too – it broke my heart, but left me feeling hope too!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It sounds fantastic! I’m currently not allowed to reserve any more library books (because I’ve hit the limit 🙈) but it is on my list to get hold of one day, as is Run Wild, and possibly Gorilla Dawn (already read White Dolphin) x

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I have maxed out both my own and Ben’s library card… #sorrynotsorry Hope you enjoy them when you read them! I am stocking up on tissues…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I highly recommend it for Moon Bear; from what I remember, I honestly had to give up as it made me so very sad! I haven’t quite maxed my card again, but they won’t let me reserve any more in case I exceed my limit 😕😂. I have lots I’m excited for reserved though, and hope to pick up a couple I know are in my local branch x

        Liked by 1 person

      6. We can take 20 books per card. I ‘borrowed’ Ben’s card from him a few months ago and have yet to return it…even if I did, it is already full, lol. But he does quite often read the books I borrow too so he’s never short of reading material! I don’t think our library has a limit on reserving books so I just have to read some fast enough to create space for the reservations when they arrive…

        Liked by 1 person

      7. We’re only allowed to order until the amount of them would max your card e.g. I have 4 out currently, and could only reserve 12. Your library sounds incredible 😍 x

        Liked by 1 person

      8. It is small, but very good at keeping up with new releases. When I was a kid we could only get 9 at a time, but my parents were pretty good at letting me use theirs 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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