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Children's Literature Reviews
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The boys from St. Petri
Bjarne Reuter ; translated by Anthea Bell.
New York, N.Y. : Dutton Children's Books, 1994.
215 p. ; 22 cm.


"Originally entitled Drengene fra Sankt Petri and published in 1991 by Gyldendal, Copenhagen, Denmark."--verso t.p.
In 1942, a group of young men begin a series of increasingly dangerous protests against the German invaders of their Danish homeland.

Best Books:

Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Thirteenth Edition, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Notable Children's Books, 1995 ; Association for Library Service to Children; United States
Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2002 ; American Library Association YALSA; United States
Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
School Library Journal: Best Books for Young Adults, 1994 ; Cahners; United States
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1995 ; American Library Association; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Mildred L. Batchelder Award, 1995 Winner United States

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Tayshas High School Reading List, 1996-1997 ; Mature Young Adult; Texas
Young Adult Reading Program, 1996 ; Grades 7-12; South Dakota

Reading Measurement Programs:

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Lexile Measure 720

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level High School
Reading Level 6
Title Point Value 9
Lexile Measure 720


Hazel Rochman (Booklist, Feb. 1, 1994 (Vol. 90, No. 11))
Translated from the Danish, this is an exciting adventure in the ever-popular World War II genre of ordinary kids fighting the Nazi occupation. From the viewpoint of teenager Lars, we see how the war brings intensity and exhilaration to his small town. Then, gradually, mischievous pranks give way to real risks; the hideous talk of racial purity threatens a Jewish friend; and even a teacher turns out to be a collaborator. The story takes a while to get going, especially the lugubrious subplot about Lars taking his brother's girlfriend, and there's some heavyhanded mythic symbolism about "fallen angels." What will hold readers is the action, the story of the boys' secret sabotage, and their loss of innocence. As the novel builds to a tense climax, Lars and his gang of boys carry out their careful plan to blow up a train--but the Gestapo is there waiting for them. The world is irrevocably changed. Category: Older Readers. 1994, Dutton, $14.99. Gr. 7-10.

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1994)
At first a small group of young men only think of pranks to achieve secretly, and these are accomplished undetected. Their strenuous initiations continue without anyone else discovering what is literally happening on top of their heads, above the church sanctuary. The group becomes bold, planning actions of greater consequence, dangerous actions. But are they still a group or club, or are they now a gang? When, if ever, is such activity justified? The nation is Denmark, the time is World War II, and the Nazis occupy the village. Gunnar and Lars are brothers, their father is a pastor, and the family boarder might be Jewish. All in the group have various motives. The novel is suspenseful, full of action and even a dash of first love. Although the outcome is unrealistic, breathless readers probably won't mind a happier ending than actual historical events would have provided. CCBC categories: Fiction For Teenagers. 1994, Dutton, 215 pages, $14.99. Ages 12-15.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1994)
A sense of pressure permeates this tightly focused novel about young Danish resistance fighters in 1942. Led by Minister Balstrup's son Gunnar, the boys at first engage in harmless pranks like stealing German license plates, street signs, and caps. The stakes rise dramatically after Otto and his pilfered Luger are accepted into the group and the boys begin to risk their lives to sabotage German operations. Complicating the relationship between Lars, the viewpoint character, and Gunnar, his older brother, is their subtle rivalry over the beautiful Irene. And threatening the secrecy of their subversion is the presence of a Jew, Filip Rosen -- St. Petri's church organist, adopted member of the Balstrup family, and intended victim of Nazi sympathizer Svend Hansen, the "Suckerfish." In a credible conclusion, four of the boys, under arrest, are in transit to an unknown destination. Even so, the final pages are suffused with the elation of victory and the success of their last defiant act, giving release at last to the story's relentless tension. An excellent complement to Carol Matas's Lisa's War (1989) and its sequel. 1994, Dutton, $14.99. © 1994 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Betsy Hearne (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March 1994 (Vol. 47, No. 7))
In a distinct turn from his Buster novels (BCCB 1/92, etc.), Reuter here traces the dark fate of Lars, determined to follow in his big brother Gunnar's footsteps as a taunter and baiter of the Germans who have occupied their Denmark town. Gunnar, entering his senior year in high school and eighteen months older than Lars, has formed a secret organization of friends who take small potshots at the enemy, stealing Nazi flags and deflating tires. When Lars and another new, younger rebel, fierce little Otto, become involved, the mischief becomes more damaging and far more dangerous. Otto has a gun, and gets another from the German supply depot, and what had been almost a game becomes a conspiracy, as the boys' actions threaten to impede the Nazi invasion of Norway. Though the telling is rather clipped and telegraphic (how much translation affects the style is hard to say), the basic material here is exciting. Reuter moves credibly from a boys' snug clubhouse atmosphere through a taut transition into war-torn adulthood. Each character is clearly delineated, especially the two brothers, whose relationship is complicated by their love for the same girl. It's an involving book, and one that shows how courage changed-and too often claimed-young lives. R--Recommended. Reviewed from galleys (c) Copyright 1994, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1994, Dutton, [192p], $14.99. Grades 6-9.


World War, 1939-1945--Denmark--Fiction.
Denmark--History--German occupation, 1940-1945--Juvenile fiction.
Denmark--History--German occupation, 1940-1945--Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.R3259 Bo 1994
93024161 [Fic]
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