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Description - The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

"Powerful and unsettling. . . . As memorable an introduction to the subject as The Diary of Anne Frank." --USA Today Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance. But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences. From the Hardcover edition.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780385751537
ISBN-10: 0385751532
Format: Paperback / softback
(201mm x 132mm x 15mm)
Imprint: David Fickling Books
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 23-Oct-2007
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

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Book Review: Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne - Reviewed by (25 Jul 2014)

As a high-school English teacher, I am always on the look-out for stories that will simultaneously engage my students and also challenge them to think carefully about the world we live in. This novel does just that.

I teach low-ability 11 - 16 year olds, and every single one of them loved this story. The language is accessible and the plot moves quickly enough that even reluctant readers are engaged. The character of Bruno is naive but relatable, and many of graphic horrors of the era are left to the imagination, which means that I could pick and choose what details my students could handle being exposed to. Many of my students finished this book asking to read more about the Holocaust, because it whet their appetite for history and historical fiction. A great outcome, if you ask me!

The novel provides a helpful segue into many deeper philosophical and hypothetical discussions, such as whether someone can be simultaneously loving and evil (Bruno's father, the murderous Auschwitz Commandant), and what you would do if you were a German during WWII. I also LOVE the last sentence of the novel, where the author states (tongue in cheek) that all this happened many years ago and could obviously never happen again in our day and age. I spent many lessons debating this statement with my students, using it as a springboard into looking at the some of the current conflicts happening around the world.

With all of that said, I would not really recommend this novel to competent adult readers. There are many more satisfying and challenging Holocaust novels out there. The entire premise of the novel is very unlikely, and the characters are largely one-dimensional. Bruno's persistent naivety is also improbable and gets frustrating by the end of the story.


Author Biography - John Boyne

John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971 and studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and the University of East Anglia, Norwich. His novels have been published in over forty languages, and his books for young readers include Noah Barleywater Runs Away and The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas won two Irish Book Awards, topped the New York Times bestseller list, and was adapted into a Miramax feature film. He lives in Dublin. To learn more, visit JohnBoyne.com. From the Hardcover edition.

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