________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 20 . . . .June 9, 2006


Camp X: Fool’s Gold.

Eric Walters.
Toronto, ON: Puffin Canada/Penguin, 2006.
160 pp., cloth, $20.00.
ISBN 0-670-06542-0.

Grades 5-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Jen Waters.

** /4

Reviewed from Uncorrected and Unpublished Proofs.



Who were these men, and how did they know about us and Camp X? Maybe they didn't. Maybe they were trying to trick us into believing they knew more then they actually did. I tried to keep my face completely blank, to not reveal anything. I even stopped myself from chewing on the inside of my cheek – I didn't want them to know I was nervous. But then again, why shouldn't I be nervous? No, not nervous, terrified. The initial shock, the numbness, had worn off now and in its place I felt a gut-wrenching fear.


In Eric Walters' new book, Camp X: Fool's Gold, the author takes a break from his recent trend of writing in the "now" with such topical issues as Terry Fox, Rwanda or September 11th 2001, and he returns to the "then" with a story that is set in September 1942. Following the previous adventures of Jack and George Braun in 2002's Camp X, a story that saw the boys accidentally discover a top secret training camp for Allied spies in Whitby, ON, the two brothers and their mother have moved to Bowmanville, ON, while their father is fighting with St Patrick's regiment in Africa. But they have not managed to totally escape their pasts, and one day three thugs wearing suits and fedoras show up at their house and threaten to kill their mother if the boys do not help them find a way back into Camp X. The thieves are looking to locate a stash of gold bars that are rumored to be stored in Camp X, and the boys are their only way in. The boys’ mother is taken hostage, and the boys must take matters into their own hands by helping the thieves travel down the river (and over a waterfall) into the camp.

     The result is a story that is filled with fast-paced action and adventure and feels like it was not only set, but also written, in an earlier time as well. There is danger, but never enough to put the boys directly in harm's way, and, if they were in such a situation, they are intelligent enough that they would almost certainly find their way out of the situation in a flash. Both conversation and circumstance call to mind a tone seen in the more traditional series of the 1940's and 1950's, series such as Enid Blyton's “Adventure” books or the “Hardy Boys.” While this does create a much more kid and adult-friendly story than many of today's crime or spy thrillers, ("oh my goodness" is uttered by one of the boys), one wonders if there is still an audience for such stories in the age of Anthony Horowitz and Eoin Colfer. Camp X: Fool's Gold is a relatively safe story that may be appreciated by young boy readers, but it is not likely to appeal to readers over 11 or 12.

Recommended with reservations.

Jen Waters is the Teen Services Librarian at the Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.

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

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