Published by Orion Children’s Books.
Review by Hannah Whitehead.
I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but Running on the Roof of the World had a somewhat bizarre cover, which left me slightly confused. Regardless of aesthetics, the actual content of Jess Butterworth’s novel was beautiful. It tells the heartwarming tale of Tash and her best friend Sam’s harrowing and – at times – brutal journey from Tibet to India. Having twelve-year-old Tash as our narrator added a childlike charm and a touch of humour to an otherwise cruel story. The writer’s knowledge of the topic – due to parts of her childhood being spent in India – adds a great deal of authenticity and allows her work to be genuinely informative as well as entertaining.
There were times when reading this that I found it a little ridiculous and far-fetched, thinking there was no way two twelve year olds could achieve so much! However, in retrospect I realised that, naively, I was reading this in reference to myself as a child when, in reality of course, in times of crisis children are often forced to grow up fast and have to achieve incredible feats to survive. Considering Butterworth is exploring such a harsh and mature theme, it’s impressive how accessible it is to a younger audience. She strikes a perfect balance between staying true to the history of the topic and also making it an entertaining adventure story, all without glossing over the vital and often slightly disturbing details.
Overall, I really enjoyed Running on the Roof of the World. It is one of those rare books that I feel could be consumed by an audience of any age and still be entertaining. It carries behind it a strong political message regarding the importance of free speech and civil liberties, something I’ve certainly not seen in a children’s book before. I look forward to seeing what Jess Butterworth does next and would definitely recommend this book!