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  • Published: 29 February 2016
  • ISBN: 9780143309123
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $19.99

Enemy Camp

When of hundreds of Japanese captives arrive at Featherston POW camp, the tiny town is divided. Tensions run high and then, on 25 February 1943, disaster strikes. Three boys witness it all. A compelling new novel by an award-winning author.

When of hundreds of Japanese captives arrive at Featherston POW camp, the tiny town is divided. Tensions run high and then, on 25 February 1943, disaster strikes. Three boys witness it all. A compelling new novel by an award-winning author.

'We knew straightaway that something was happening. Extra men in khaki uniforms stood at the main gates. Behind the wire, figures in blue sat on the ground. None of the usual moving around, washing up, wrestling, anything like that. Just rows of prisoners, sitting silently.'

It's 1942, and the tiny farming town of Featherston is about to receive hundreds of Japanese soldiers into its prisoner-of-war camp. Ewen, whose dad is a guard there, can't stop wondering about the enemy just down the road. Some say the captives are evil and cruel and should be treated harshly – or shot. But when Ewen and his friends ride out to the camp to peep through the barbed wire, the POWs just seem like . . . well, people.

Then a new group from a captured warship arrives and the mood in the camp darkens. Guards and inmates begin to clash. As tension builds the boys are told to stay away. But on 25 February 1943, Ewen and his friends are there at the moment the storm breaks – and terrible, unforgettable events unfold before their eyes.

A compelling novel by a master storyteller.

  • Published: 29 February 2016
  • ISBN: 9780143309123
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

David Hill

David Hill is a prolific and highly regarded New Zealand writer, playwright, poet, columnist and critic. Best known for his highly popular and award-winning body of work for young people, ranging from picture books to teenage fiction, his novels have been published all around the world and translated into several languages, and his short stories and plays for young people have been broadcast here and overseas.

Born in Napier, New Zealand, David studied at Victoria University of Wellington and became a high-school teacher, teaching both in New Zealand and the UK. In 1982 he became a full-time writer and his first novel for teenagers, See Ya, Simon (1992), about a boy with muscular dystrophy, was shortlisted for major awards in New Zealand and the UK and won the 1994 Times Educational Supplement Award for Special Needs. An enduringly popular novel used as a class text in high schools all over New Zealand, in 2002 it was awarded the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book.

David has published more than 50 titles over four decades. His middle-grade novels include My Brother's War (2012), which won the Junior Fiction Award and the Children's Choice Junior Fiction Award in the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, the LIANZA Librarian's Choice Award and was listed as a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book, a White Raven and an IBBY Honour book. This was followed by novels Brave Company (2014) – also a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book; The Deadly Sky (2015); Enemy Camp (2016), which won the 2016 HELL Children’s Choice Award for Junior Fiction; Flight Path (2017), a Storylines Notable Book; Finding (May 2018), Highly Commended in the New Zealand Heritage Book Awards 2018; and Coastwatcher (2021).

Below (2022) won the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2023. Described as 'a white-knuckle survival story set in a catastrophic tunnel collapse', the judges commended the way 'it trusts its young readers to handle big environmental ideas and come to their own conclusions'.

David is also the author of a number of critically acclaimed picture books with illustrator Phoebe Morris. First to the Top (2015) is their bestselling story of the life of Sir Edmund Hillary, which won the 2016 Children's Choice Award for non-fiction and was a 2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book. Speed King (2016), about the world-record-breaking achievements of Burt Munro, and Sky High (2017), recounting the life of the daring aviator Jean Batten, were both presented with Storylines Notable Picture Book awards. Hero of the Sea: Sir Peter Blake's Mighty Ocean Quests was published in 2018 and Dinosaur Hunter: Joan Wiffen's Awesome Fossil Discoveries was published in 2019.

In 2004 David was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2005 he was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, acknowledging his significant contribution to children's literature in New Zealand.

In November 2021 David was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement - Fiction in recognition of his outstanding contribution to New Zealand Literature.

He lives in New Plymouth with his wife Beth, and juggles his many writing projects with numerous school visits, leading professional development for teachers, mentoring new and emerging writers and tutoring creative writing.

Also by David Hill

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Praise for Enemy Camp

Taranaki writer David Hill loves to write about ordinary children in extraordinary circumstances.

Jim Chipp, The Wellingtonian

David Hill is one of this country’s most prestigious writers for children, particularly boys. His books fictionalise key past events, such as the Wahine disaster in No Safe Harbour. No surprise then that his latest, Enemy Camp, is set during World War II. Except this time the titular camp isn’t located in Germany or the United States, but rather in small-town Featherston, where Japanese prisoners are interned. Enemy Camp’s localising of big history really pays off, bringing home to 9-14 year-olds how New Zealand played its part in important historical happenings... Importantly, Hill personalizes the demonised foe, allowing young readers to see Japanese captives as much victims of war as anyone fighting on the Allied side. ...Enemy Camp is both an enjoyable read and imperceptible history lesson.

Siobhan Harvey, Waikato Times

David Hill has already given us so much New Zealand history in a readable and engaging way. This story continues his excellent eye for detail while still telling a gripping tale. Included are so many of the events which occurred in the last years of WWII: Polio, blackouts, shortages, racial tension and the daily lives of small town New Zealand. David Hill captures the honesty of the age group and the sense of curiosity which grips lads of Ewen’s age. This book would be an excellent read-aloud to a class, or a family. It will also capture the interest of those hard-to-find-a-book-for boys. I sat and read the whole thing, so gripped was I by the unfolding events. The true measure of this book comes from my 90-year-old father. I suggested he might enjoy it, remembering the incident as he did. Not only did he find himself fully engaged, he was quite smitten with the accuracy of the setting and events. In his words, "That is one more task I no longer have to do before I die. I wanted to write about childhood in the war years, but David Hill has done it for me.” I do not think there could be a greater accolade for the writer and his book. My grown up children are all in line to read it next. They grew up with David Hill’s books and still want more.

Kathy Watson, Booksellers NZ Blog

Enemy Camp was easy to read, clear, and compelling . . . David Hill has always had a great knack for bringing story and character to life in a way which really engages the reader, and Enemy Camp is no exception. . . Hill brilliantly creates the feeling of the late 1940s in New Zealand . . . through dialogue, particularly between the boys who are the main characters, but also through his ability to provide great insight in a few words. . . . and I think that younger readers will be caught up in the story regardless of their historical knowledge. . . . All the way through this excellent book there is great attention to detail . . . Good craftsmanship is everywhere evident. Hill has a knack for creating character in a few well-chosen words, and his descriptions of Clarry struggling to walk are extremely moving. Once again, David Hill has written a cracking good story which will engage readers. It would, in my opinion, work well as a class text, as there are many good points to trigger discussion and further research.

Sue Esterman, NZ Books

The daily diary format makes it really accessible, but what really shines out of this story is the reality. I'm not sure this is an event that New Zealanders know a lot about...but this is our history written into a really exciting adventure story for 10- to 16-year-olds.

John McIntyre, Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan Children's Book Review

this compelling coming-of-age tale explores what it means to be human.

Tots to Teens

Awards & recognition

New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults

Finalist  •  2016  •  Finalist in the Junior Fiction and Children's Choice categories of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults

Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award

Notable Book  •  2017  •  Storylines Notable Book