World War II Internment Camp B70, better known as Ripples Internment Camp is a little-known part of New Brunswick (and Atlantic Canada) history. Located near the mining town of Minto, the camp existed from 1940-45. Little of it exists today; a concrete structure that supported a wooden water tower is the only permanent part of the camp still there. There is a walking trail through the area where the camp existed, and the Minto town hall hosts a museum containing hundreds of camp artefacts.
When thirteen-year-old Warren Webb’s dad decides to hire Ripples prisoner-of-war Martin Keller to help out on their New Brunswick farm, Warren thinks that his father must be crazy to invite a Nazi into the house. To make matters worse, he is going to sleep in the same room as Warren! Who invites a Nazi to sleep under their roof? Warren and his friend Tom cook up a plan to kill Martin in his sleep:
Martin’s snoring continued.
So far, so good.
I picked up my pillow and stood.
His snoring guided me to his head. When I sensed I was near his bed, I began lifting the pillow with both hands, ready to press it over his face.
Suddenly, his snoring stopped. I froze.
Of course, Warren soon gives up on the idea of smothering Martin and thinks of other ways to kill the “enemy”. Eventually, working along with Martin in digging a septic pit, he comes to see Martin in a different light.
I found Prisoner of Warren to be humorous at first (did you get the title’s pun?), as Warren’s half-baked schemes to do away with Martin are cooked up. Soon, though, after an altercation with some local bullies, Martin and Warren join forces out of necessity and then truly bond as Martin teaches Warren how to sprint more effectively so he can perform his best at the upcoming provincial track meet. However, the bullies have other plans to extract retribution for their earlier humiliation at Warren’s hands, and that’s when the story really gets intense and you’ll soon be turning the pages at a fervent rate.
Written primarily for middle graders, Prison of Warren is thoroughly enjoyable and very wholesome reading for all ages.
Andreas Oertel was born in Germany but lived most of his life in Canada. He’s travelled all over the world and had a hundred different jobs — everything from rickshaw driver to health inspector — but his favourite occupation is writing.