Books by Bjarne Reuter

Released: Jan. 1, 2004

An ambitious 18th-century bildungsroman, set largely among slaves and pirates in the Caribbean, but still unlikely to carry many child readers through to the end. Certain that his fortune is made after he rescues two survivors of a slave ship's wreck—glib Ramón, and a young captive whom Ramón claims to be the easily ransomed son of a Cape Verdean king—Tom O'Connor leaves his poor but familiar life behind when the two suddenly disappear. His pursuit takes him to both sides of the Atlantic, from the stews of Port Royal to the horrors of a sugar plantation, through encounters with pirates, a hurricane, and changes of fortune both numerous and breathtakingly rapid. A yarnspinner extraordinaire, innocent but not above the occasional murder, Tom makes a memorable protagonist—but the author's (or translator's) wry, slightly detached tone leaves his reactions and inner changes largely between the lines, perceptible only to more sensitive, experienced readers. And though rich in complex, love-hate friendships, plus unexpected shafts of humor that illuminate many darker moments, the tale's wearisome length and episodic structure—not to mention abrupt changes of tense and odd, third-person dialogue—make this less a robust, involving story than a "literary experience." (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
THE BOYS FROM ST. PETRI by Bjarne Reuter
Released: March 1, 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. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

A second bittersweet story about the hero of Buster's World (1990 Batcheldor Award)—with the vulnerable but resilient Danish boy now yearning to play the lead in a school play. Telling scenes reveal that Buster's life isn't easy: he must fetch his father home from a bar; he shares a bed with his sister; he's treated callously by teachers, the play's director, and a school custodian—only one of the blindly angry people he contends with. Creative and sensitive as well as exasperating, Buster counters with mischief—not all of it innocent: he tricks the privileged boy chosen to play the sheikh into letting him paint his face green—but he's also the sympathetic confidant of a neighbor, a recent widower, and, for all its faults, his family is a loving one. Like his character, his age is a surreal blend of playfulness and adult experience—though he does decimals in math, Buster's constant companion is ``Charlie Mane,'' a broomstick horse. In the book's most poignant moment, just after a teacher has called him a ``zero...[a] nothing,'' Buster's told by the custodian that Charlie Mane has been burned: he was infested with lice. The weeping Buster still has courage and a sense of his own value: running free, he shouts, ``I'm Buster...I'm not nothing.'' A moving story that captures childhood's essence in a rare blend of unblinking realistic detail, pathos, and rollicking, roguish humor. In Bell's excellent translation, the style is wonderfully vigorous and colorful. (Fiction. 9+) Read full book review >