Book Tour + Excerpt: Running From the Sky by Amanda Malben


Running From the Sky

by Amanda Malben

Three years into the civil war that has turned his country upside down, Sami’s home village in Syria is hit by a deadly bomb attack and he is forced to leave behind everything he knows and loves. Eventually, Sami and his family are given refuge in Coventry, England, but city life is hard to adjust to. It’s grey and cold and there are no fields to play in or animals to tend. Worse still, Sami worries about the fate of his uncle and cousins back in Syria and struggles to make new friends.


In a bid to take his mind off his homesickness, Sami is introduced to Harry Adams, one of the elderly residents at the care home where his mum works. Although wary of one another at first, the pair gradually form a bond, as Harry tells Sami the story of the unusually named Splen and his dog Bobby, who lived through the Second World War and the infamous Coventry Blitz. As Sami discovers more about Splen and his dramatic escape from the horrors of conflict, the two unlikely friends make peace with their troubled pasts and forge a new sense of hope for the future.


“Splen gazed up at the night sky, dazzled by the brightest moon, and stars scattered like so many diamonds. Although it was freezing, Splen didn’t mind at all – it was such a lovely November night. Splen was glad he’d persuaded Mrs M to let him take Bobby out for a quick run before they settled down for the night. Her next-door neighbour scurried past him.

“’Clear night like this,’ he growled. ‘It’ll bring nothing but trouble; reckon we’ll be in for it tonight. Best you get yourself home sonny.’

“Splen wasn’t having it; nothing terrible could come out of a sky so beautiful. No, he’d hang on for a while and let Bobby have more of a run around. In the distance he could hear dogs barking, more joined in and then more. Bobby, standing stock still, added his voice to the pack. The air filled with a sense of panic, the barking like a warning. Splen could just about make out the distant throb of engines.

“’Come on Bobby, we’d better get back. Come…’ But then the banshee wail of the sirens broke through, penetrating the night. Almost in the blink of an eye the beautiful night sky transformed into a world from a horror comic. Hundreds upon hundreds of planes appeared, advancing like so many monstrous black birds; swooping towards the city, bombs falling like rain from their bellies.

“Icy fingers of fear turned Splen into a statue. For what seemed like an age he was incapable of moving, stunned by the sheer enormity of what was going on around him. Waking from the trance he yanked Bobby’s lead running for Mrs M’s house. As he ran, every part of him felt bombarded by the terrifying noise, the earth shaking; dust, rubble and flying glass filling the air, the world lit-up not with the moon but the red glow of fire. In the distance the factory lit up, targeted and hit.

“Splen was blind to the danger around him; every part of him focused on getting to the safety of the house, the comfort of Mrs M’s arms. He was almost there – two more houses. “Boom! Splen flew through the air, thrown across the street as the blast hit him.

“Splen opened his eyes. He could feel something on top of him – was he buried? Had he died? He couldn’t hear anything – was he a ghost? Trying to

move bits of debris, he noticed that feathers and cloth also fell off him. He was covered by shredded cushions and the remains of what was once an armchair. He knelt and pushed himself to stand up. His dust-filled eyes took in a scene he couldn’t recognise. Nothing he saw made any sense. Where was he? What had happened? He stared at a pile of rubble, a glittering carpet of glass, a gaping hole in the row of broken houses. Stumbling, he tried to get closer.

“Without warning noise filled his body, a roaring from the sky. Looking up, although he could hear the planes, he couldn’t see them through the dust-clouded sky, despite the moonlight and the sweeping searchlights. And then there was gunfire, huge explosions, sirens, shouting. It was all too much and Splen put his hands over his ears, trying to block it out – but it was too loud, too intense.

“In sheer panic, he tried to move bricks and rubble, tried to make sense of what was lying all around him. It was then he realised that he was lying in the remains of what had been Mrs M’s house. It was her armchair from the front room that had covered him and saved his life. What was she going to say when she saw it all in pieces, her precious china ornaments, nothing left?

Information about the Book

Title: Running from the Sky

Author: Amanda Malben

Release Date: 30th May 2018

Genre: YA

Publisher: Wrate Publishing

Format: Paperback



Amanda Malben trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama but has dedicated herself to teaching. She taught adults with learning difficulties at Northampton College, specialising in drama, and English as a foreign language to adults. A fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, she co-founded a project with Northampton University to help improve the language skills of immigrant children and their parents. Now retired, she lives in the Northamptonshire countryside close to the Warwickshire border and enjoys writing and walking her dog.


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