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Publisher's Note:  

New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2012
The Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Books of 2012

 
Fate:
Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born?
Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands? 
 

Jepp of Astraveld needs to know.

He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them; but it breaks Jepp’s heart to see his friend Lia suffer.

After Jepp and Lia attempt a daring escape from the palace, Jepp is imprisoned again, alone in a cage. Now, spirited across Europe in a kidnapper’s carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars may lead him. But he can't even begin to imagine the brilliant and eccentric new master—a man devoted to uncovering the secrets of the stars—who awaits him. Or the girl who will help him mend his heart and unearth the long-buried secrets of his past.

Masterfully written, grippingly paced, and inspired by real histori­cal characters, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is the tale of an extraordinary hero and his inspiring quest to become the master of his own destiny.



Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

by Katherine Marsh

Review Date:
02/12/2013

Recommended Age:
12+

Overall Rating:
****1/2

Profanity / Language Rating:
**

Violence / Gore Rating:
***

Sex / Nudity Rating:
***

Overall Review:  

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh is historical fiction that examines what it meant to be a dwarf around 1600 in Europe.  This unique perspective leads to a book that is thought-provoking and at times introspective about whether individuals, circumstances, or the fates control personal destiny.  Strong characterization, vivid descriptions, and a sprinkling of historical characters make the era come to life.

 

The first part of the book alternates between Jepp's current, perilous, and uncertain situation and flashbacks to how he arrived to be in such dire straits.  This effectively creates tension and foreboding.  The book then slips into a slower and more reflective narrative as Jepp struggles to define himself and understand his place in the world.  In addition to being an enjoyable read, this novel is so rich in themes that it would be excellent for book clubs and school projects.  Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is first-class historical fiction, a breath of fresh air, and highly recommended!


Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  1 mild obscenity.

Note:  Use of the term "b*stard" was used a few times in a factual manner and not tallied.

 

Violence/Gore:  Report of wars; report of a character being stabbed; a scene (~1 page) in which a character is violently beaten with the mention of blood; report of death in childbirth; an animal is injured and must be put down; report of an appendage being chopped off in a prior duel; report of the death of a family member.

 

Sex/Nudity:  A character questions the identity of their father; reference to "dalliances" with servant girls; some jokes with bawdy innuendo; character removes clothes to get new ones and to bath (non-sexual); a character is pregnant out of wedlock; characters hold hands and kiss; a character is attracted to another character and things of about them (non-descriptive); a character reports having an affair and a child out of wedlock; implication/suspicion/discussion that a character forced himself on another (no details).



Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, death of family members, astrology, abuse, illegitimate children, forced sexual advances



Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Ale is served at taverns.  A character regularly consumes hippocras.  A character is given opium to make her sleep.  Ale and wine are often consumed to excess at dinners and banquets by characters of all ages.  Some characters get drunk.  A moose likes to drink ale/beer.



Reviewed By Cindy
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