Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell
  

Sektion 20

Written by Paul Dowswell

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

There’s genuine terror at the heart of this gripping political thriller. Life in East Berlin is fraught with tension: the Stasi are everywhere and you have to watch you words to stay safe. Teenager Alex knows all of that and he tries to behave as a perfect East German boy. But, Alex has a secret and he only has to make one small slip up and everything he cares about will collapse around him.

From the author of Auslander.

Synopsis

Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell

Alex lives in East Berlin. The cold war is raging and he and his family are forbidden to leave. But the longer he stays the more danger he is in. Alex is no longer pretending to be a model East German, and the Stasi has noticed. They are watching him. Alex is told that further education will be blocked to him. His summer job is mysteriously cancelled, and friends begin avoiding him. His parents start to realise that leaving the East may be the only option left to them, but getting across the Wall is practically impossible. And even if Alex and his family make it to the other side, will they be able to escape the reach of the Stasi? This is a tense, page-turning thriller that builds towards a terrifying showdown as powerful forces from the East and West converge. One false move will change everything for Alex and his family, for ever.

Reviews

Praise for Sektion 20:

'A great thriller with a poignant historical background ... A terrific book' - The Bookseller

Praise for Auslander:

'A breakthrough into the top league for Dowswell, a hugely impressive thriller set during the Second World War ... There will be many adults sneakily borrowing this from their children' - The Bookseller

'Doswell is one of the best new writers of historical fiction for children ... [Auslander] steps outside the victim culture of novels such as those by Morris Gleitzman and comes close to classics such as The Silver Sword. Admirers of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas should look at this novel as a model of imaginative sympathy' - The Times

About the Author

Paul Dowswell

Paul Dowswell cemented his position as one-to-watch in the world of children’s historical fiction with his much-acclaimed WWII novel, Ausländer. Throughout all of his fiction, Paul weaves meticulous research into thrilling narrative that will engage young readers.

A former senior editor with Usborne Publishing, Paul Dowswell is now a full-time author. He has written many non-fiction titles, two of which were shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award. Powder Monkey, his first novel, was published to huge critical acclaim. Ausländer was shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the Red House Children’s Book Award. He currently lives in Wolverhampton with his family.

Paul on his inspiration for Cabinet of Curiosities:

The Cabinet of Curiosities is set in 16th Century Prague, during the reign of Rudolph II. Lukas Declercq, fleeing the Inquisition in his native Ghent, arrives in the city in 1598 to be apprentice to his Uncle, court physician Anselmus Declercq.

Seeking company away from the staid confines of the castle, Lukas is drawn to the excitement of the city’s darker side. He becomes an unwitting pawn in the battle to control what people are permitted to say and think. (Here the story shares some ground with my previous book Ausländer about a teenager in Berlin during the Second World War.) Ultimately, Lukas learns how to make his own choices between
right and wrong, and that the answer is rarely clear-cut.

The idea behind the story was inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s fruit ’n’ veg portrait Vertumnus, of Rudolph II. A culture which produced something so magnificently strange and original sparked further investigation.

I visited Prague and the Castle whilst researching the book. Woodcuts and engravings from the era show that much of the city remains from Rudolph’s time. The contents of his Cabinet of Curiosities – an extraordinary collection of mechanical and scientific instruments, specimens, paintings, and relics – are well documented. Four huge rooms contained everything from astrolabes and orrerys to Dürer’s famous watercolour of a young hare, and, supposedly, nails from Noah’s Ark and feathers from a phoenix. Much of the Cabinet was scattered to the four corners of Europe when the Castle was looted by Swedish Troops in 1648 during the 30 Years War. A fraction remains in Prague. The rest can be found in museums and art galleries around the world.

Rudolph was plagued throughout his life by severe depression – all the more reason to admire his open mindedness, tolerance, and passion for art and science. In a Europe haunted by the Inquisition, his Prague was an oasis of free-thinking where Catholics, Protestants and Jews lived side by side. Here, natural philosophers could investigate and share their knowledge of the newly-emerging sciences without fear of being executed as heretics. This was an age, after all, where an astronomer could be burned at the stake for stating that the Sun was at the centre of the Solar System rather than the Earth. In his patronage of alchemy and fascination with the world, Rudolph was an early champion of the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century.

Photo credit David Rann

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Book Info

Format

Paperback
288 pages
Interest Age: From 12

Author

Paul Dowswell
More books by Paul Dowswell

Author's Website

www.pauldowswell.co.uk/

Publisher

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Publication date

5th September 2011

ISBN

9781408808634

Categories


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