Kid’s Book Review: The Runaways of Haddington Hall

Kid’s Book Review: The Runaways of Haddington Hall

About the Book and Author

From bestselling author Vivian French is a boarding school drama set in Dickensian England. It is published by Walker Books.

After a series of misfortunes, Minnie O’Sullivan is whisked away to Haddington Hall: a nightmarish home for wayward girls. Bad becomes worse when the hall’s ruthless founder, Mrs Haddington, takes an instant dislike to brave, determined Minnie, and she’s in danger of losing everything…


Runaways of Haddington Hall cover
Vivian French

Vivian French has written dozens of books, on all subjects and for all ages, including Caterpillar Butterfly, shortlisted for the 1993 Kurt Maschler award, Chocolate and The Robe of Skulls. She says, “I like to move between picture books and teenage angst, between fiction and non-fiction, between retellings and new ideas. Someone wise once told me that it’s all right to be a free wheeler (at the time I was earnestly searching for a defining label) and I’m happy with that.

A visiting lecturer in children’s literature at the University of the West of England, Vivian has been writer-in-residence at libraries, schools and festivals, including the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Wordplay, Swansea. She was a regular reviewer for The Guardian for six years, and travels all around the world swapping and sharing ideas with children and adults. Vivian was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to Literature, Literacy, Illustration and the Arts.

Book Review

I loved this book and I hope there’s a sequel. I am looking forward to reading more stories by Vivian French.

Right away you can tell its set in the olden days because of the mangle. It is really funny when Mrs Haddington calls Minnie Mangle later on because she is the daughter of a washerwoman. My favourite character is Minnie O’Sullivan because she is so funny and clever. She is very determined and when you upset her her temper flares up.

The differences between the classes in society is unjust. There is a big difference between the luxury Lady Lavingley lives in and the poverty of Enry (who is very kind and honest despite sleeping in a stable).
Minnie goes through a big journey in this book and it is surprising who she becomes friends with and how they help each other out.

There is a big change in the plot and so many twists. I was surprised to find out who the villain was and how he’d done it before and nearly got away with it again.

Mrs Haddington is the stupidest character in this book and she got what she deserved at the end.

It was really interesting and I didn’t want to put the book down to go to school. I am so glad I get to go to school because some characters didn’t get to go to school until the end of the book.
I also got to into the book so much that I was speaking like the characters and adding S’s onto the end of everything. It’s made me think about how I can write dialogue in my schoolwork.

I loved this book and I hope there’s a sequel. I am looking forward to reading more stories by Vivian French.

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Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Violet
  • Age: 8 years
  • Likes: Harry Potter, astronomy and cats
  • Dislikes: Her brother and The Twits
  • Favourite Book: Malory Towers by Enid Blyton
  • Favourite Song: Confident by Demi Lovato
  • Favourite Film: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix