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The Day I Ran Away

  • Mom's Choice Award Gold Winner
  • Children's Literary Classics Seal of Approval
  • Mississippi Magnolia Children's Choice Award PreK-2 List, 2019
  • 2017 Foreword INDIES Honorable Mention

What do you do when your purple shirt is dirty, your favorite cereal is gone, and a
tantrum gets you banished to your bedroom?

You run away… to a pop-up tent in the yard... but just until dinner.

The Day I Ran Away is a spirited yet soothing story for days when you feel like
running away, and a sweet reminder that home is where the hugs (and cookies) are!


From Kirkus
Niner's tale, told entirely in dialogue at bedtime, will be familiar to most toddlers, though not every set of parents is so indulgent and understanding. The typeface and color are different for each speaker (Grace's is, of course, purple). Ongaro's illustrations, drawn by hand but colored electronically, alternate between the evening bedroom and the events of the day…The bright and cheery images add needed detail to the spare tale.


From Children's Literature
Youngsters will enjoy this tale because Grace's kid-sized sass does not erode their family's underlying strengths. Actually, caregiver trainers or parenting instructors can use this title to launch discussion on how active listening and flexible parameters underscore accountability in a kid-friendly way. Ages 4 to 8.


From Foreword Reviews
When Grace's day turns from bad to worse, she decides to leave it all behind, in Holly L. Niner's sweetly uplifting The Day I Ran Away. Alternating voices and fonts in adult orange and youthful purple relate Grace's experiences with dramatic humor, and fun, colorful illustrations from Isabella Ongaro convey the wide range of emotions that allow Grace's day to go from better to best with a little help from Mom and Dad.


From PW 2017 Sneak Previews
Flashlight packs up with The Day I Ran Away by Holly Niner, illus. by Isabella Ongaro, featuring a girl who recounts her tough day at bedtime, recalling how she had a tantrum and ran away.


From Midwest Book Review, April
Original, deftly crafted, beautifully illustrated, and utterly charming from beginning to end, The Day I Ran Away is very highly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.


From Midwest Book Review, July
Providing a perfect picture book story experience for children ages 5 – 7, "The Day I Ran Away" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections.


From Literary Classics Book Awards
Sweet joy, warm fuzzies and happy thoughts abound in this fanciful book about a day in the life of a little girl who has experienced an abundance of frustrations one after the other…Look out Alexander and the Terrible Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, there's a new book in town and it's earned a very special place in our hearts and on our book shelf.


From Edwards Book Club
The Day I Ran Away will be sure to keep kids engaged and will teach them the importance of following rules and listening to parents. And, hopefully, they will also learn that there really is no place like home. Full of bright and cheerful illustrations with big and bold words, this picture book is sure to be a winner for children between the ages of 4 and 6.


From Story Monsters Online
This fun little story pulls at big heart strings, and creates a wistful desire to return to a time when my very courageous little boy determined he too, needed broader living conditions. And just like Grace's mom, I helped him pack and sent him on his way. I'm sure this endearing tale will resound in great chuckles from most parents who've had the same experience with their little ones at one time or another. I love the illustrations of Isabella Ongaro as she depicts the patient way Daddy lets Grace unravel her tale, revealing the great relationship they share.


From Storybook Reviews
This is a cute story with a bit of a lesson for both children and parents. All children (actually people of all ages) will get upset at one time or another and this story shows that if you handle it properly and have taught your children well that it will all work out. I like how the mother handled the situation – giving her daughter some freedom and letting her think she was running away from home without actually leaving the yard. In a small way she turned it into an adventure and having taught her daughter some lessons earlier in her life about crossing the street, she was able to keep her close. It was really ingenious!


From Book Talk
While Dad tucks her in, a little girl named Grace calmly recounts her day—which was anything but calm.


From 1st Grade Reading
Two words: sweet and adorable. Both the story and the illustrations. Told mostly through dialogue, the words are sparse but meaningful. The illustrations give a lot of meaning to the girl's actions… The story shows how a little solitude can be a good thing, especially if we have a loving family to return to, or one that would like to run away with you. 


From Some Books I Like
You need to check out this book…  Everything was going wrong for Grace, so she decided to run away, but what do you do when you aren't allowed to cross the street?  Grace tells her dad all about her day and running away while he tucks her into bed at night.  He listens intently, commenting at just the right times.  It's precious.


From Beth Laipple, Kindergarten teacher at Canterbury Lower School
Thank YOU for coming in and speaking to us. We are big fans! The book is just delightful…and what a wonderful family it depicts – firm, but loving parents who are on the same team and imaginative, feisty Grace!


From Denise Phillips, owner of Gathering Volumes Bookstore
As a bookstore owner I was lucky to get a copy of this book prior to its release date. As a mom I found this to be a lovely book about a child discovering her independence. I love that throughout the story the mom plays along with her daughter running away and that the daughter finds her day enjoyable and wants to "run away" again the next day. It is both a great story for a child as they will see the young girl calm down as the day progresses and also a great story for a parent as they will see a mom find a creative way to encourage her stubborn child.


From Mom's Choice Awards Blog interview with Holly Niner
"…as parents we often struggle with the balance of too much or too little discipline. If our goal is for our children to be able to make good choices when we aren't there to make the choice for them, then we need to sometimes give them a safe space to explore their decisions. Speaking from experience, that time when Grace was outside "running away" also served to give Mom some needed space to gain perspective on the day!"


From KidsBookBuzz
A girl tells her dad a story about running away on that day. It all started when they were out of her favorite cereal and her favorite purple shirt was in the laundry, so she had to get a white one. She used a marker to make that shirt a purple one. Mom did not like it and banned her to her room, with no markers for a week. That's when she decided to pack up and leave. When she remembered that she is not allowed to cross the street, mom suggested using the pop-up tent in the front yard. That was actually quite fun, with crayons, toys, and favorite stuffed animals. Mom even brought a sandwich and cookies. She decided to come home when "her stuffed animals" got hungry (I really think she was hungry instead), and mom had made her favorite meal, spaghetti and meatballs. She decided to do it again the next day. I can see why! She had a great time in the pop-up tent and got her favorite meal and cookies. I like playing in my pop-up tent, too, but I would never think of running away. My parents make my life too nice for me. –Brian, Age 6


From Lauren Kramer, writer, on GoodReads
I absolutely loved this book! I was enchanted from start to finish. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that the entire text is a dialogue just between Grace and her dad. This reminds of me of the close relationship that I had with my father as a child (and still do). I love how her dad remains calm throughout the story and really listens to Grace while validating her feelings. Isabella Ongaro's illustrations are amazing! I especially love the Charlie Dog character. He is so cute and his expressions and antics are adorable. I also love the style of the illustrations as well as the vibrant color palate that was used. This story is a great read for children of all ages. The timeless theme of home being where the heart is can be felt with every turn of the page. Children will definitely relate to Grace and her feelings.


From Omazing Kids
I love using great picture books in OMazing Kids speech therapy and kids yoga! Guess what? This book is fun for both. I love the colorful illustrations, facial expressions of the characters, how the color of the text changes to help depict which character is talking, logical consequences for behaviors, offering options, the subtle use of kids yoga for calming and a happy ending…. This publisher always has great printables to go with their books (tap on "Activity Guides"). I especially like "The Day I Ran Away Yoga" and "What Would You Pack?"


From Armineh Manookian, Good Reads with Ronna blog
It's bedtime and Grace begins sharing her day with her father who gently reflects her feelings: disappointment at not being able to wear her purple shirt, anger at finding out her favorite cereal is "all gone," repentance for having lashed out at Mom, and betrayal for not being recognized for her creativity (in using a purple marker to transform her white shirt into her favorite color). As spunky Grace narrates her day, it's clear to us readers she's more concerned about telling a good story than disobeying her parents. "No, Silly, you can't run away to your room," she tells her dad after he incorrectly assumes the bedroom is her go-to runaway hideout. I like how Dad playfully adds to the drama of her story: "Like a princess in a tower," he compares her to after Grace explains she was "Banished to [her] bedroom."
These endearing exchanges between father and daughter are enhanced by Ongaro's colorful illustrations. Double page spreads guide the story. On the left side of the page we see the written words (Dad's words are in orange and Grace's are in purple-of course!) and the day's events are illustrated on the right. This technique makes reading the story, for even very little ones, easy and fun to follow. Hand sketched and digitally colored, the illustrations feel warm and safe, especially in details like the scalloped fringes on Mom's sleeves and kitchen tablecloth.

While the subject matter of running away can be controversial, the lighthearted interaction between parent and child encourages respect and space for children's emotions. After all, when Grace finally decides to run away, she remembers and obeys a fundamental house rule. "I'm not allowed to cross the street!" she tells her father and solves her predicament by following her mother's suggestion. Camped out in the yard, Grace is in her pop up tent, steps away from the kitchen and Mom's cookies. In fact, this presence of food (and the comfort it connotes) I felt was a quiet nod to Where the Wild Things Are. Max returns from his adventure to find dinner on the table, piping hot–as if he never really ran away from home in the first place.

While our darker emotions can make us feel miles away, our parents' love and validation always bring us back home.