Pip Sullivan was expecting her tenth birthday to be the best day of her life. She had done everything she could think of to make it so. Instead it was on course to be the worst – except for maybe her actual birth day when she had been abandoned in an apple crate on sully’s doorstep. Of course, Pip didn’t remember her actual birth day, having been just a ‘skinny squawker’ of a baby at the time. This was according to Sully, who said it was mostly best to ‘call a spade a blasted shovel’. Sully didn’t believ in bulldust, or that unexpected events – like the sudden arrival of a loud and smelly newborn baby in his life – were anything to celebrate.
Pip’s life has been a happy if slightly unusual one. Despite being abandoned by her mother at birth and not being related to Sully, they have a strong loving bond. Sure, Sully is somewhat unorthodox as a parent-figure, more than a bit grumpy and more inclined to study the form guide than recipe books, but he’s Pip’s only family. Now Sully is sick and Pip knows that everything could change. Sully has instilled in Pip a very strong sense of optimism and instinct for survival. So she takes off, evading the police, other authorities, tricky situations and her teacher. Pip discovers she has more friends than she knew and meets new ones in her flight, including an unusual cat and a smelly dog. She is determined to save Sully, get him better and return to her old life.
Pip is a wonderfully engaging character, full of curiosity, drive, compassion and an ability to connect with people. Despite her beginnings and unusual childhood, she is a wonderfully grounded child, avid learner, an astute judge of character, practical, loyal and trustworthy. Sully has taught her to be suspicious, a trait that will get her both into and out of trouble. Run, Pip, Run is a wild adventure and Pip an intrepid adventurer. Reader will cheer her successes, call out warnings as danger approaches and hold their breath as Pip appears to fall. Recommended for mid-primary readers.
Run, Pip, Run by J. C. Jones
Allen & Unwin 2015 ISBN: 9781743319222
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller