2012 New York Times Notable Children's Book!
Wall Street Journal Best Children's Book of 2012
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 strange and 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 unshakeable 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 henchman's carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars will lead him. But he can't even begin to imagine the strange, new world—with its beer-drinking moose, brilliant and eccentric master, and long-buried secrets about his own identity—that he's about to discover.
Masterfully written, grippingly paced, and inspired by real historical characters, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is the tale of an unusual hero and his extraordinary quest to become the master of his own destiny.
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Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook
Hyperion Books, Hardcover, October 2012, ISBN: 9781423135005
Disney-Hyperion, Paperback, November 2013, ISBN: 9781423137863
"Narrating a young adult novel from a dwarf's perspective is nothing short of inspired...Marsh transcends genre to create an engaging narrative complex enough to keep not-so-young adults turning its pages."
—Kathryn Harrison in The New York Times Book Review (read the full review)
"It is no easy trick to conjure characters who seem truly situated in the past rather than merely transplanted from the present....When it works, as it does in Katherine Marsh's Jepp, Who Defied the Stars, the result is gold."
—Wall Street Journal (read the full review)
"Real history is effortlessly woven into her fiction...Marsh transforms [Jepp's] 'footnote' of a story into an epic search for love, family, respect, and a destiny of one's own making."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review (read the full review)
"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...This shining gem is a must-have."
—School Library Journal, starred review
"This outstanding work of historical fiction provides readers with more than just an imagined biography. Incorporating elements of adventure, romance, tragedy, intrigue, and science, the novel conjures a place and time not commonly explored in young adult fiction and offers plenty of period detail."
—The Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books, starred review (read the full review)
"Adolescents are newly encased—like Jepp—in bodies that seem too small (or too large) but never a match for what is inside them... Marsh's characters capture many near-ubiquitous experiences of this particular stage of life." —Ellen Handler Spitz in The New Republic (read the full review)
"Marsh's elegant historical fiction has a moving message." —The Independent, The 50 Best Books for Christmas
"A beautifully written coming-of-age story, inspired by real historical characters. A truly great read." —Recommended Reads, Children's Books Ireland
"Confident and adventurous readers will find much to relish in the richness of Katherine Marsh's narrative. With a strong central character in Jepp, this is an unusual and powerful coming-of-age story about first love and taking control of your future." —Booktrust, UK, "Books We Like"
"A fast-paced adventure, abundant with period details... the honest and humorously self-deprecating voice of Jepp moves readers to rejoice with him as he seeks and manipulates his destiny."
"With an engaging hero and unusual setting, Jepp is compelling historical fiction about the treatment of those who are different and the challenges they face to be viewed as equal."
"Now, I'm going to open the lid of this treasure chest and tell you that this is not mere storytelling... not mere entertaining rise and fall and adventure. We are looking at a book that has been crafted. I believe Crispin (Avi) has a friend in the making here. Brilliant."
—Barb Langridge, A Book and A Hug (read the full review)
"One of the best works of straight-up YA historical fiction I've had the pleasure of reading this year."
—The Booksmugglers.com (read the full review)
"Rarely do I read a book that is written with such advanced skill as to evoke images of great poetry, while at the same time possessing a level of ease allowing even the most reluctant of reader to be swept into the story. All of this leaves only one word to describe Jepp, Who Defied the Stars. Magical."
—Whatchamacallit Reviews (read the full review)
"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."
"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
"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
"Rich, absorbing storytelling—a terrific read in every way."
—Nancy Werlin, National Book Award finalist and author of Impossible
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