Reader Reviewed Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth

Running on the Roof of the World

Written by Jess Butterworth

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June 2017 Debut of the Month

In a Nutshell: Spirit of survival abounds on an epic Himalayan journey A captivatingly classic adventure in which two children battle extreme political and environmental hostilities as they journey from Tibet to India.

By day Tash’s dad writes for the authority-controlled local newspaper. By night he writes leaflets for the resistance. On this particular night, after a local tailor sets himself alight to protest the regime, soldiers seize Tash’s parents. With a defiant determination that belies her 12 years, Tash wastes no time in putting a plan into action. “I have the luck of the sky dragon,” she encourages herself, thinking of her dad’s words as she and best friend Sam embark on an extraordinary journey to India, where they hope to secure the support of the Dalai Lama. But time is against them, as is the terrain. Winter is on its way, and the perilous paths of the Himalayan Mountains will soon be blocked by snow. And then there’s the snipers who appear through the mists, and the bear tracks that appear in the snow and, all the while, Tash and Sam are struggling to decipher a coded message from her father.

“We're so small. Can we really make a difference?” Tash wonders but, at its heart, this novel tells the tale of her tenacity, and ability to do just that. It’s a thrilling fable about hope, and the importance of holding onto what matters, no matter what. With its derring-do charm, and vivid sense of place, this follows in the tradition of classic adventure stories, and comes thoroughly recommended for fans of Eva Ibbotson, Lauren St John and Katherine Rundell. ~ Joanne Owen

A message from the author: I spent much of my childhood living in the foothills of the Himalayas with my parents and grandparents. My grandma would take my hand and tell me stories of her adventures: how she travelled to India by boat at ten years old; gardened with the Dalai Lama when he first arrived and encountered many animals. There was the black bear that stole the dog food, the leopard cub my uncle rescued and rehabilitated, and the monkey that would climb into bed with everyone. Soon, one of my favourite things to do was to clamber over the mountains searching for wildlife and imagining that I was on my own adventures in the wilderness. As I got older, I met Tibetans who explained how they had walked for months across the Himalayas, risking their lives to escape from Tibet into India. These stories inspired Running on the Roof of the World. Jess Butterworth

Reader Reviews

In addition to the review by one of the Lovereading4kids editorial experts, some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel members were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here

  • Issie Ford, age 9 - 'I loved this book because it's fun to learn about different cultures and religions while enjoying a story - and learning how to crack secret codes!'
  • Punam Shah, age 10 - 'An exciting read, this page-turner of a book kept me on the edge of my seat...This novel has opened my eyes to what is going on in the world. Not every child has their own freedom.'
  • Zoe Basson, age 10 - 'I loved the risk, the love and the sadness...All in all this book was heart-warming.'
  • Emily Lonsdale, age 11 - 'A true adventure of beautiful meaning with powerful characters and a fantastic setting. An absolute gem of a book!!!!!'
  • Nick Kaleniuk, age 11 - 'I really liked this book because it showed how no matter how small or big you are, you can always make a difference.'
  • Emily Dickson, age 12 - 'I love Running on the Roof of the World. It has completely changed my view of Tibet. I couldn’t put it down, it’s so gripping. Perfect for 11 to 15s.'    
  • Romilly Dally-Fitzsimons, age 10 - 'An amazing adventure than makes you feel happy, sad, frightened and full of hope. Please read it. Awesome!!!'
  • Emily Golding, age 10 - 'Unbelievable! Fabulous! Jess Butterworth is a fantastic writer! This is truly a brilliant book!...This book will appeal to both genders as it's an adventure story with a twist. Enjoy!'
  • Ellen Cox, age 10 - 'I could not put this book down (literally!!). This book gets a 5 star rating from me and I liked the fact that every character was individually described. This is the best book ever.'  
  • Maia Fuller, age 12 - 'I really enjoyed reading this book and I couldn’t put it down! The description is amazing and the character’s personalities are so well thought out.'
  • Emily Yates  - 'Running on the Roof of the World presents us with an insight into the culture of foreign countries, acknowledging its importance, and reminding us how special hope and friendship are.'


Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth

Join 12-year-old Tash and her best friend Sam in a story of adventure, survival and hope, set in the vivid Himalayan landscape of Tibet and India. Filled with friendship, love and courage, this young girl's thrilling journey to save her parents is an ideal read for children aged 9-12. There are two words that are banned in Tibet. Two words that can get you locked in prison without a second thought. I watch the soldiers tramping away and call the words after them. 'Dalai Lama.'

Tash has to follow many rules to survive in Tibet, a country occupied by Chinese soldiers. But when a man sets himself on fire in protest and soldiers seize Tash's parents, she and her best friend Sam must break the rules. They are determined to escape Tibet - and seek the help of the Dalai Lama himself in India. And so, with a backpack of Tash's father's mysterious papers and two trusty yaks by their side, their extraordinary journey across the mountains begins.


'Running on the Roof of the World is one of those stories that gives its young readers an honest understanding of some of the awful things that go on in the world, but balance that understanding with a narrative of survival and hope...' -- Jill Murphy The Book Bag

‘Daring kids, sidekick yaks, Himalayan setting - all the ingredients of a smashing adventure’ - Abi Elphinstone

'A wonderful story of courage and hope' - Amy Wilson (A Girl Called Owl)

'From the beginning, it had heart and excitement. I knew it would be a winner!’ - Lucy Christopher (Stolen)

'A powerful, compelling story of hope, wisdom and compassion...' -Steve Voake (The Dreamwalkers's Child)

About the Author

Jess Butterworth

Jess Butterworth spent her childhood betweenthe UK and India and grew up hearing stories about the Himalayas from her grandmother. As part of her research, she lived in India and even met with the Dalai Lama. She felt passionate about writing a book based on the recent events in the area, and grounded in the setting she grew up in and fell in love with. Jess studied writing at Bath Spa and now lives in the US but is a frequent visitor to the UK.

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Book Info


288 pages


Jess Butterworth
More books by Jess Butterworth


Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group

Publication date

1st June 2017




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