Armistice Runner

Lily has lots of worries. She’s struggling to compete in her fell-running races and, worse, she’s losing her gran to Alzheimer’s. But then she discovers her great-great-grandfather’s diaries from the First World War. Could his incredible story of bravery help her reconnect with her gran and even give her the inspiration she needs to push through and win?

Written for 9+ children
Published by Barrington Stoke 
Available from your local librarybookshops and

“Powerfully poignant, this is a book not to be missed … If there is one WWI story you read this year to commemorate the centenary, let it be this one!”  Scott Evans, The Reader Teacher & #PrimarySchoolBookClub

Read Chapter 1 of Armistice Runner here
More Barrington Stoke’s Press release about the book here.

“It’s utterly compelling – a pacy tribute to the athleticism and bravery of men such as Ernest Dalzell, fell-runner extraordinaire and soldier. With its themes of loyalty, competitiveness, heartbreak and endurance, Armistice Runner is full of authentic emotion. I love how Lily learns that she shares her fitness, speed and eye for navigation over tough terrain with her great-greatgrandfather.  A connection that gives her an edge of fortitude when she most needs it … Armistice Runner will enhance readers’ understanding of the tragedy of war – and I hope, too, it inspires some to lace up their studs and head out into the fells.” Emma Hargreave

“A powerful intergenerational tale that honours the forgotten running heroes of November 11th 1918  and examines the devastating
impact of dementia on family relationships in the twenty‑first century.” Ailsa Bathgate


The Armistice Runner Challenge – a running and memory activity for schools Guidelines & certificate


Literacy & Dementia 

Literacy & Sport

Literacy & History


Cover Prediction Worksheets including:

  • Who, where, what, when, why etc ?
  • Predictions and why
  • Download here


The Fells : Vocabulary Picture by Kim Gibbins and worksheet

Download here




Download here

(More posters here)



Draw a landscape to colour in for the Armistice Runner characters here: Lily (running today) and Ernest (a trench runner in the First World War) here.

(More posters here)



Please feel free to use these images for mapping your pupils ideas about the story, see this example

Another idea used by pupils at Greenbank School was to create these amazing “blackout poems” …





See also … Ten national and local opportunities that schools in the UK can take to mark the Armistice centenary this November. 

“Armistice Runner is a wonderful story to use in the classroom to explore the history of World War 1. The narrative is compelling and perfectly pitched to bring the big themes of war to young readers without being either too frightening or too reductive. By linking the historical aspect of the story to a modern day character in a familiar setting and emphasising the relatable, human aspects of one soldier’s experiences, Tom has skilfully crafted a way for young readers to connect with an event that could too easily seem a world away from them.”  BOOK FOR TOPICS

Find out more about …

The First World War and the Armistice here 




The inspiration for Armistice Runner here



(See also my First World War story Over the Line)

Themes in this book : 1 The First World War

The story is based very loosely on our family’s love of cross country and fell running and the champion fell runner of 100 years ago, Ernest Dalzell:

Ernest Dalzell







Credit with thanks to @grasmereschool

While researching Over the Line I became fascinated with the Armistice and how hundreds of thousands of men could collectively stop fighting at eleven a.m. after all they had been through.  I read that there was no time to lay down communication wires, the allies had been advancing so quickly on the Germans.  Runners were used to pass the news on.  


More First World War Literacy Resources to accompany Over the Line , Wings: Flyboy and Armistice Runner (Posters, videos, playscripts and quizzes) downloadable from here.

Themes in this book : 2 Running

My daughter is a fell and crosscountry runner (as am I) and I wanted the story to come from the point of view of a girl like her and the other keen children who enjoy running cross country and on the fells.  

Knowing that many cross-country and fell runners went to fight in the First World War, the story started there.

In the muddy fields, along with the parents and grandparents, stand the coaches. Volunteers who give up their time and use their passion to make it possible for millions of children to enjoy dozens of sports every week in the UK.  Armistice Runner is dedicated to them. 

Themes in this book 3 : Dementia

Today’s grandparents are often portrayed in books as retired, cosy and very much hands-on with their grandchildren.  Sadly, many more families today are coping with the heartbreaking affect dementia has on their older loved ones. In Armistice Runner, I tried to capture the impact this has through Lily’s warm relationship with her ailing gran. 


“Thank you so much for dropping this in at my work! It’s a beautiful start to a story! I can’t wait to read the rest !”





2018 Armistice Runner is Books for Topics September book of the month.

2018 Armistice Runner is School Reading List’s  October book of the month. “a gripping and tense account … An uplifting story of adversity, this YA book is a pacey page-turner to read in one sitting”

2018 Armistice Runner is Minerva Read‘s book of the week.


“an engaging, exciting and emotionally intense one that will appeal to anyone who enjoys reading about family relationships and how we’re all tied to the history of our ancestors” letterpress project

“The World Wars have provided many an author with fodder for their fiction and there are some truly brilliant books out there as a result. The best are the ones that take a slightly different angle and explore one of millions of individual lives that were affected by those conflicts. ‘Armistice Runner’ is one such book…    The fact that a book with sports and war themes centres around a female character is also a plus point – too often these topics see males take centre stage… As with all truly great children’s books it’s one that adults will enjoy sharing too, potentially prompting grown-ups to share their own family’s history and involvement with the World Wars with their children, thus preserving those stories for another generation.”

“This is a thoughtful book and ideal for introducing children to the history of the First World War and would be an excellent prompt for discussion on a wide range of topics including dementia, loyalty and forgiveness.”

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Visit my Amazon Bookshop here or buy Armistice Runner here

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