Saturday, February 24, 2007

Boyne, John. The boy in the striped pajamas

Boyne, John. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. David Fickling Books, 2006 [0-385-75106-0]
This story is told from the innocence of a nine-year-old boy but is written for older readers. Bruno and his family live in Berlin in a large house. His father is important and wears an impressive uniform. One day "The Fury" comes to visit with the blond-haired lady. A few days later, they are closing up the house and move to "Out-With." His father has a new uniform and is called commandant. Bruno doesn't like the new, small house in the middle of nowhere and a big fence running down one side of the property. Bruno is lonely. One day while exploring the long fence he sees a boy on the other side of the fence in striped pajamas. They become friends, talking through the fence. Bruno doesn't understand why there are so many people living on the other side of the fence and his new friend doesn't understand why he was brought to live there. This 214 page book is a story of the Holocaust told entirely through the eyes of an innocent child. It has a much more innocent feel than Spinelli's "Milkweed." While there is nothing inappropriate in the book, I am not sure whether elementary students will understand the book. Because of the way the story is innocently told, I am not sure that all the students in my middle school will understand the ending (which I will not tell you about here.) This book is great for discussion. Be sure to read it.


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