Parents' Guide to

It Was September When We Ran Away the First Time

By Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Engaging look at 1950s kids; some history lessons required.

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This would make a lovely read-aloud so parents can provide some historical context while laughing at Paolo's precocious first-person narrative. "It has always been our family's way to go along with the Bible or leastways on the interesting bits," he notes. This is novel where the characters shine; Smith adeptly fleshes out adult characters, even within the confines of Paolo's perspective. "My dad is chock-full of virtue," Paolo explains. "He's especially Determined; though sometimes I think Determined is a first cousin to Stubborn." The boys engage in all sorts of antics, from Paolo blowing on Billy's eyeballs to wake him up to Paolo tying Georgie up and nearly suffocating him with a mouth gag. Like readers of any nostalgic novel (fBeverly Cleary's series, for example), contemporary kids may wonder at the freedom young people used to enjoy roaming around town.

The question is whether younger readers will appreciate Paolo's insights, catch references to John Wayne, or understand all the to-do about Communism and interracial relationships.

Book Details

  • Author: D. James Smith
  • Genre: Coming of Age
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Atheneum
  • Publication date: September 9, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
  • Number of pages: 230
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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