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Carol Matas.
Toronto, ON: Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1989.
160pp., paper, $10.95.
ISBN 0-88619-1092. CIP.

Subject Heading:
World War, 1939-1945-Denmark-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14

Reviewed by P.J. Hammel.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

Carol Matas' latest novel Jesper is the sequel to her earlier book Lisa (Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1987), which won the Geoffrey Bilson Prize for Historical Fiction for Young People. Readers of Lisa will remember that, while fighting in the Danish resistance movement during World War II, she met and fell in love with another young resistance fighter named Jesper. This novel provides an exciting account of Jesper's activities fighting the Nazis after Lisa has escaped to Sweden.

Matas opens the story with Jesper in a German prison; repeated torturings have left him in constant pain as he awaits execution by his captors. In flashbacks, he reveals his adventures as a journalist and saboteur. On the eve of his execution, a daring RAF bombing raid signals not only the end of the German occupation of Denmark but also Jesper's liberation.

This is an unusual presentation. The story is one that early teens would enjoy. There are exciting action scenes, a love interest and even some rather mature curse words - all of interest to those who are beginning to feel the imminence of young adulthood. Jesper is unusual, however, in that the reading level, according to Frey's scale, measures out at the grade 4 level. This latter would seem to suggest that the story was written to serve as high interest / easy reading material for the low-achieving teenager. Because Lisa was not available to this reviewer, no comparisons could be made.

P.J. Hammel, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK.
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