________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 13 . . . . March 4, 2005


Camp 30.

Eric Walters.
Toronto, ON: Viking Canada/Penguin Canada, 2004.
214 pp., cloth, $22.00.
ISBN 0-670-04486-5.

Subject Headings:
Camp 30 (Bowmanville, Ont.)-Juvenile fiction.
World War, 1939-1945-Prisoners and prisons, Canadian-Juvenile fiction.
Prisoners of war-Germany-Juvenile fiction.
Prisoners of war-Canada-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Pam Klassen-Dueck.

*** /4


Okay, it’s now or never, I said to myself.

I grabbed the top rung of the ladder and practically rocketed out of the opening. Jack was standing right there alongside the field marshal. He just stood there, doing nothing. Why wasn’t he doing something?

Then I saw the darkened figures of two other men, guns in hand, standing above me. It was the guards! They’d discovered the tunnel and we were safe!

“Schnell! Schnell!” one of the guards said as he reached down, grabbed me by the arm and pulled me through the opening.

“It’s okay, it’s me!” I screamed. “I’m not a prisoner! I’m--”

There was a sharp pain in the back of my head as something smashed against my skull and . . . everything went black.

Twelve-year-old George and his older brother, Jack, have barely recovered from their accidental infiltration of Camp X, a top-secret World War II spy training facility near their town of Whitby, Ontario. Now, they discover that, for their own safety, they have to be moved to Bowmanville, where their mom has obtained a new position at a German POW camp. As the boys become acquainted with the German officials, they are offered a job delivering mail at the camp. George and Jack assume they are safe; however, they learn that Camp X has a new assignment for them at the POW camp: to keep their eyes and ears open for possible escape attempts. Tension builds as the boys, eager to serve their country, find themselves unable to stay out of wartime danger.

     Eric Walters’ fast-paced story, set in Ontario during the Second World War, is the sequel to Camp X; however, readers do not need to be familiar with the first novel to enjoy Camp 30, as Walters is careful to frame the references to the boys’ Camp X exploits.

     Walters keeps his readers involved via a number of unexpected loops in the plot. George, the narrator, is regularly led into tight spots by his older brother, who is relentlessly trying to aid his country’s war effort. As a result, the boys are continually prying themselves out of tight squeezes. For example, Jack’s insistence that they investigate a suspicious-looking building leads to their capture by the German soldiers ... and nearly results in their being spirited away by an enemy submarine! The short chapters make a point of ending with suspense, heightening the reader’s attention to the brothers’ spiraling state of affairs.

     As well as satisfying the need for tension, Camp 30 contains compelling particulars about small-town Canadian life during World War II, historical details of which adolescents would be unaware. For example, the description of the numerous prisoner-of-war camps in the country is among the most interesting information presented: Jack and George observe that the Germans prisoners live under better conditions than the average Canadian citizens, having such luxuries as ice cream, fresh produce, and a swimming pool. Walters, in fact, emphasizes throughout the novel the importance that people know their own past and, to underscore this significance, has a local shopkeeper emphasize to George and Jack: “‘Aren’t they teaching you kids history anymore?’ he asked. ‘That’s what’s wrong with schools today, not teaching kids about their own past.’”

     Camp 30 is especially directed toward 10- and 11-year-olds who will be more likely to relate to the narrator’s irritation at being perceived as naive and inexperienced in comparison to his older brother. However, the book will interest other Middle Years readers, especially boys, who enjoy war-related historical fiction.


Pam Klassen-Dueck is a Grade 8 teacher at Gillis School in Tyndall, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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