Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

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Overview

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

"This highly unusual story about a highly unusual hero will also feel like your story. Few of us are imprisoned dwarfs, but all of us want to guide our own lives." -Jonathan Safran Foer, New York Times best-selling author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

"Rich, ...

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Overview

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

"This highly unusual story about a highly unusual hero will also feel like your story. Few of us are imprisoned dwarfs, but all of us want to guide our own lives." -Jonathan Safran Foer, New York Times best-selling author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

"Rich, absorbing storytelling-a terrific read in every way." -Nancy Werlin, National Book Award Finalist and author of Impossible

"Delightful characters, unique setting, and lovely prose. This is historical fiction at its best!" -Ruta Sepetys, New York Times best-selling author of Between Shades of Gray

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.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Self-conscious about your body? Unsure where—or if—you'll ever fit in? Wondering when people will start treating you like an adult? Katherine Marsh's Jepp, Who Defied the Stars delves into these perennial adolescent challenges while transporting her readers to a tiny island in Denmark in the late 16th century…Jepp does, as the title of Marsh's novel announces, defy what another less gifted and determined young man might accept as fate, just as Marsh transcends genre to create an engaging narrative complex enough to keep not-so-young adults turning its pages.
—Kathryn Harrison
Publishers Weekly
In the final years of the 16th century, a 15-year-old dwarf named Jepp struggles to understand himself and his place in the world; he’s caught between the pull of the past, the promise of the future, and the forces of fate and free will. The first of the book’s three sections finds a battered and beaten Jepp being transported ignobly in a cage to an unknown destination; along the way, he recalls the events that led him there, from his humble upbringing in an inn to becoming a court dwarf in Brussels (a role in which humiliation, opportunity, and danger are closely entwined). Jepp’s fortunes continue to wax and wane in the later sections, as he arrives at the island castle of astronomer Tycho Brahe. As in Marsh’s The Night Tourist and The Twilight Prisoner, real history is effortlessly woven into her fiction: while Jepp has his roots in an actual dwarf who served Brahe, Marsh transforms his “footnote” of a story into an epic search for love, family, respect, and a destiny of one’s own making. Ages 12–up. Agent: Alex Glass, Trident Media Group. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Edgar-winning author Katherine Marsh takes readers into the busy household of the eccentric astronomer Tycho Brahe in the late 16th century. In this compelling historic novel, we follow first-person narrator Jepp, a "failed" court dwarf, as he tries to navigate, with dignity, a world that ridicules his appearance, demeans his intelligence and refuses to honor his love for Brahe's oldest daughter. Jepp's slightly more formal voice is perfectly in keeping with his times and position, and the book's stunning design, with its blue ink and end pages and chapter illustrations of stars and galaxies, calls to mind Brahe's heavenly maps and Jepp's own upward gaze. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
VOYA - Deborah L. Dubois
Do the stars determine our fate, or do we shape our own destiny by the choices we make? Jepp leaves the inn in Astraveld where he was raised and protected by his single mother only to find himself captive at the royal court of the Infanta, where he is subject to daily humiliation as a court dwarf. After an attempted escape, he is exiled to an island ruled by an eccentric astronomer who treats him like a dog. Through his own cleverness and loyalty, Jepp creates a place for himself among the scholars there, finding love as well. Jepp cannot accept his place with Magdalene in Uraniborg until he learns the secret of his father's identity, so he begins a quest that puts him in danger again. He discovers the identity of his parents, in the process realizing his own strength and determination. This gripping, coming-of-age novel will resonate with those trying to find their place in the world. Does Jepp's parentage matter more than what he makes of himself? Even secondary characters are fully-developed, but Jepp's character is the guiding light on this quest to answer the question of fate over free will. He finds friendship as well as cruelty, but ultimately Jepp finds he makes his own destiny. This story, in three parts, will surprise and delight the reader. Reviewer: Deborah L. Dubois
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Is our fate predetermined, or do we make our own fortune (or misfortune) through our actions and decisions? Marsh ponders this age-old question through the eyes of an extraordinary hero. When Jepp, a fatherless dwarf, joins the court of the Spanish Infanta, he's not prepared for the daily humiliations that become his life. He also doesn't expect to fall in love with a fellow performer, melancholy but lovely Lia. When she is raped, Jepp attempts to help her and her unborn child escape-with tragic results. As punishment for his insubordination, Jepp becomes dinnertime entertainment for the eccentric Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Inspired by friendship with Brahe's daughter, Magdalene, Jepp reveals his educated mind and is welcomed into the astronomer's close-knit circle of scholars. He even finds true love. But before Jepp can embrace this promising new future, he must embark on a journey of self-discovery to resolve his past. Marsh crafts a beautifully poignant coming-of-age tale of struggle, tragedy, and, finally, of triumph. Jepp's indomitable spirit is truly inspiring, and it is this rare quality that makes his character so memorable. The universal moral of self-acceptance is communicated skillfully. This shining gem is a must-have.—Alissa J. Bach, Oxford Public Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
Part coming-of-age novel and part paternity quest, this late-16th-century tale earns its distinction by virtue of its narrator: a dwarf. Edgar Award–winning author Marsh (The Twilight Prisoner, 2009, etc.) has written a fast-paced adventure, abundant with period details, that comprises about two years of the diminutive Jepp's life. Jepp's account begins at a perilous point in his story--"imprisoned in [a] star-crossed coach, bumping up and down bone-rattling roads"--which leads to an exposition of the events that have brought him to this fate. Eventually his tale moves to a time beyond the hazardous coach journey and on to a satisfying, if overly contrived, ending. The book has three parts, loosely linked to three crucial northern European settings: the rural inn where Jepp was raised by a loving mother; the kingdom of Coudenberg, where he endures the luxurious but humiliating life of a court dwarf and is involved in a horrible tragedy; and the palace of Uraniborg, renowned for astronomical research, where Jepp's status rises almost miraculously from pet dog to that of a respected scholar as well as a favored suitor for his beloved. Despite the fact that the third part of the book pales in comparison to the first two, the honest and humorously self-deprecating voice of Jepp moves readers to rejoice with him as he seeks and manipulates his destiny. (Historical fiction. 12-18)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423137863
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 11/12/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 775,269
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Marsh is the Edgar Award-winning author of The Night Tourist and The Twilight Prisoner. She spent a decade as a journalist, including as a reporter for Rolling Stone and as managing editor of The New Republic. For her latest novel, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars, Katherine drew on her childhood fascination with the portraits of court dwarfs by Spanish painter Diego Velazquez. A New York native and a Yale graduate, she currently lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and two children.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Awesome!!!

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    Posted November 25, 2012

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