The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

book cover image for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Boyne, John.  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  215 p.  David Fickling Books.  2006.  ISBN  978-0-385-75106-3.
Reading about the Holocaust is horrific.  This fictional tale is perhaps even more horrific to read because it’s narrated by nine-year-old Bruno, the son of a Nazi Commandant.  In 1942, Bruno’s family moves from a large home in Berlin to a smaller home 50 yards from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Bruno’s cluelessness is a little unbelievable.  Everyday, this nine year old boy can see thousands of  striped pajama-clad people stuck behind a chain-linked fence.  It begs the question “How could he have not known what was being done to all of those people?”  This question could be the reason the author chose to make Bruno as naive as he did.  Many people who lived near concentration camps claimed to not know what was going on.  Although Bruno’s Dad was a high-ranking Nazi officer, *maybe* it’s possible that he really had no idea what was going on.

At any rate, one day he secretly ventures over to the fence.  He sees Shmuel, a Jewish boy on the other side of the fence, and they become friends.  Bruno obviously knows there’s something going on behind that fence because he secretly brings Shmuel food whenever he can.

This heart-breaking story is about a very difficult and hard-to-read subject.  Ironically, the book is a page-turner, which doesn’t seem like the right phrase to use with a story about the Holocaust.

Will Bruno get caught visiting his friend?  What will happen to Shmuel?  What will happen to Bruno? Read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas to find out.

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Tags: World War II, Concentration camps, Auschwitz, Jews, Nazi, Germans,

A/R Reading level: 5.8

Interest level:  Grades 7-10

Link to Harvest Park Library catalog:  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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