“ Author: John Boyne / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 11 September 2008 / Genre: Adventure Stories / Subcategory: Children's Fiction / Publisher: Random House Children's Publishers UK / Title: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas / ISBN 13: 9781862305274 / ISBN 10: 1862305274 „
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I recently read "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" after discussing the film with a colleague at work. I had mentioned how sad I had found the film to be and she suggested I read the book. Now, I hadn't even realised that the film was an adaptation of a book, which I'm quite ashamed to admit! I normally prefer a book than a film adaptation!
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is written by John Boyne who has written novels for adults and also younger readers. The story of the novel follows Bruno, a nine year old boy and his family. His father is a high ranking SS soldier and his family in well to-do. His father is relocated to a different role, by Adolf Hitler, referred to as The Fury i.e. Führer, with a child's innocent lack of understanding. They are relocated to a large house, also known as Out-With. We soon establish that his father is a Commandant at Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Bruno is not told why they are moving, he is not told of the purpose of Auschwitz or his father's role. He discovers the camp despite being banned from exploring and discovers a large amount of people wondering around in 'pyjamas'. He finds a boy of his own age on the other side of the fence and quickly makes friends with Schmuel. He doesn't understand why Schmuel is so thin, wears pyjamas and can't come and play with him. However, he discovers that they are very similar in terms of characteristics, yet overlooks the glaring difference of one being a polish Jew and one being a German. I will not spoil the rest of the story by going any further with the plot.
This novel is most definitely one for a younger reader rather than an adult and I would most definitely recommend it as such.The book itself is an easy read at only 272 pages and quite large print at that. In the main, the book is a haunting portrayal of genocide and a major event in history through the eyes of a child. Specifically, through the eyes of a child who has utterly no idea at the level that humanity could sink to. The innocence of Bruno is actually painful at times and it is entirely heartbreaking that a child witnesses such atrocities which really makes an impact on the reader. On the other hand, the level of friendship shown by Bruno is much more heart warming. As a child, un-impacted by politics and general opinion, a German child (and the child of a high ranking official no less) becomes firm friends with a young Polish, Jewish boy.
The book was criticised heavily upon its publication. There has been widespread criticism that anyone could have been unaware of the atrocities occurring and gives credence to the idea that ignorance of the facts is a defence. I find this hard to believe, that anyone could expect a sheltered nine year old to have any understanding of the level of prejudice that is needed to create this kind of situation when a child is born with utterly no prejudice.
The book is very well written in terms of making it a novel for a younger reader. Some subjects such as the guards treatment of the prisoners in the camp can be interpreted in different ways. Whilst the older young people and adults that read the novel will gleam its real meaning through general knowledge about the events that occurred during the Holocaust, the younger, less discerning reader will appreciate to some extent the brutality shown towards the prisoners without being too traumatic.
Having the book and seen the film, I would urge you to read the book rather than see the film. The book is far superior in the emotions that it evokes. I would highly recommend it to both young adults and adults alike. I definitely felt like I was reading a young adult book; however, it's still a must-read.
This book is available on Amazon for the price of £5.03 currently. I'd say it's well worth the spend! Alternatively, support your library and use it!
When The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas came out at the cinema, I was slightly disappointed. Even allowing for the fact that it was aimed at educating younger viewers about the Holocaust, the predictable plot and lack of real emotional impact let it down.
For that reason, I put off reading the book for a long time, despite Mrs SWSt assuring me that it was very good. As ever, she was right. When I finally got around to reading it, I enjoyed it immensely (although "enjoyed" is perhaps the wrong word to use in this context) as a fascinating account of hope, despair, death and ordinary life amidst extraordinary events.
Bruno is a 9 year old German boy who feels very angry when he and his parents move to a place he calls "Out-With". Unlike his old home, there is no-one to play with and too many soldiers marching in and out of his house. Curiously, from his bedroom window, he can see a large area surrounding by high-wired fences where everyone inside seems to wear striped pyjamas all day, every day. Exploring the area, he meets one of the boys from this strange camp and strikes up a friendship.
It must be very hard to get the tone right when trying to write for both adults and children simultaneously. Too many children's writers feel the need to patronise their audience (which will annoy the adults) whilst it can be tricky to write a complex book for adults that children will understand. Author John Boyne is one of a relatively small number of authors to pitch it right. He writes in a clear and simple way that neither patronises nor confuses; he is able to express ideas and events which are quite horrific without spelling them out in explicit detail that might be disturbing for younger readers and he gets across quite complex ideas in a way which it is easy for children (at least older children) to understand.
Where Boyne's writing really excels is in capturing the naivety and sense of adventure of the average nine year old boy. Youngsters that age have a very limited world view and see issues mostly in black and white. Boyne captures this innocence in Bruno perfectly. The way he thinks, the way he views the world as "unfair" if he is stopped from doing what he wants and his total lack of understanding about what is happening is completely convincing.
This is cleverly handled through the childlike way he interprets events, but also the way he mis-hears things. He thinks his new home is called Out-With; and that the very important person who gave Father his job is called The Fury. If I tell you that the book is set in Germany during the Second World War, it won't take you long to work out what he is actually talking about. Yet, it's all too easy to see how a child can mis-hear unfamiliar terms and re-interpret them in terms of their own experiences. This brings a touching and convincing child-like quality to the novel.
It's with this emotional element that the book is so much better than the film. Although it's a relatively short book (around 220 pages), the characters of Bruno and Shmuel (the young boy he befriends) and their touching friendship feel convincing and well developed. We understand a lot more about what Bruno is thinking and how he interprets what he hears and sees than we ever did in the film and this provides a far greater emotional resonance, contrasting the boys' innocence with the horrible events they are caught up in.
Boyne copes well with trying to get across the horrors of the concentration camps without traumatising younger readers. He phrases things in exactly the same way that a child - lacking the more sophisticated, nuanced vocabulary of an adult - would. So he refers to one of the guards "getting very angry indeed" with one of the Jewish prisoners. For a child, someone getting "very angry indeed" is probably one of the worst images they can conjure up; it gets across something of the casual brutality of the camps without fully expressing it. It's framed in terms of innocence; whereas an adult will divine its true meaning - a brutal (possibly fatal) beating.
The book also does an excellent job (far better than the film) of contrasting the naivety and innocence of Bruno with the experience of Shmuel who has witnessed far more than a 9 year old should ever have to endure. Yet, despite the grim surroundings, the book contains a strong element of hope; the thought that the innocence of childhood with its lack of prejudices can overcome the darkness of the camps.
It's touching to see the friendship between the two boys slowly blossom (despite the surroundings) and, whilst the ending is still just as predictable (at least when seen through adult eyes) the build-up is much better handled. Since the book offers a greater opportunity to get to know Bruno better the ending also has a far greater emotional impact.
Of course, The Boy... also has an educational role, drawing attention to the atrocities of wartime and the Nazi regime and trying to ensure today's youth knows what happened. Thankfully (apart from the deliberately thought-provoking final paragraph) the book is never preachy. Ideas relating to good and bad, right or wrong are seamlessly woven into the text and there is no judgement made on any of the characters, no matter what they do. Instead, the reader is left to think these issues through for themselves.
It's rare to find a book that can be read on different levels by children and adults alike, but this is one such title. Far better than the underwhelming cinematic version, this is a book which all parents should make their children read, and should read themselves.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Definitions (film tie-in edition), 2008
© Copyright SWSt 2013
Told through the eyes of 9 year old Bruno, growing up in Berlin during WWII, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is simple in style but devastating in subject matter.
Bruno's father, a rather cold, intimidating figure, is clearly something high up in the SS, and one day after 'The Fury' comes for dinner, he is given a significant promotion which means the family, to Bruno's dismay, are forced to move to 'Out-With'. Although their new house is lovely, Bruno can't help but be a little unsettled by the view from his window. Behind a huge wire fence, he can see hundreds of people, many of them children, all wearing the same outfit - striped pyjamas. As he begins to explore his new surroundings, he meets a boy named Shmuel, who lives on the other side of the fence, and they begin to make friends.
Although Bruno is fairly likeable, if a bit dull, his naïveté about what is happening in the camp is a little unbelievable. He is constantly saying things to Shmuel things like 'why do you always wear those pyjamas?' or 'it's so unfair that you have all those people to play with and I'm stuck on this side of the fence all by myself.' Bruno is young, but it seems ridiculous that the son of an SS officer wouldn't know what a Jew was, or have any idea why all those people were in the camp. Sometimes the things he says to Shmuel make you cringe, especially because Bruno is fairly condescending anyway.
As you would expect, Shmuel is quite jaded and cynical and at first doesn't seem to quite believe Bruno Is being serious when he says some of the things that he does. Watching their relationship develop is quite interesting - both of them are starved for company and despite their difference in circumstance, they learn to get along and both learn something from the other.
Bruno and Shmuel share a birthday and are exactly the same age, which I suppose is a crude but effective way of making the point that the only difference between them is the circumstances of their birth. The notion is a little clichéd, but because of the sensitive, emotionally charged subject matter it still affects the reader. It makes it so easy to imagine that were you born in the 1930s, you could just as easily have been Shmuel as Bruno. I think many people have probably wondered whether if they had been born at the time, they would have done anything to stop the atrocities that were happening, but it's more difficult to imagine yourself as one of the people sent to a concentration camp and worked to death.
The novel has caused its share of controversy. It has been said that several aspects of the narrative are unbelievable - mainly technicalities about who would be in Auschwitz, who knew about it and what the security arrangements are. To be honest I don't think these would affect your enjoyment of the book unless you are particularly knowledgeable on the subject.
I found this an easy read - the narrative being in a 9 year old's voice made it simple and quick to skim through, and it was easy to pick up on what was really going on when Bruno's limited understanding left him confused. The ending is definitely emotional, but I didn't feel like it really stayed with me like other similar stories (such as that of Anne Frank) did. Ultimately, I didn't feel I cared about Bruno enough for this to impact me as it seems to have impacted others so much. I'd recommend it if you see it in a charity shop or if you can borrow it from a friend, because it is a reasonably good read, but I haven't and won't go out of my way to find anything else by this author.
Available online from £3
Despite the innocuous sounding title, this book isn't exactly bed time reading, well not to read to those little ones as they gently nod off.
It's a strange book. The narrative is written in the third person from the perspective of Bruno, a nine year old boy living in Germany during WW2. And that's about as much of the plot as you're going to get from me. Och, maybe just a little so as we all know what we're talking about...that'll be a first.
I don't really want to say too much because part of the joy of this book is the slow unfurling of what exactly is going on and the creeping realization that what, a some points, seems like a simple story about children for children, isn't quite what it seems after all.
I found the writing to be very clever. On the one hand, the reader is lulled into a false sense of thinking that the book is a little too childish, but then the story is told through the thoughts of a nine year old so it would have to be. But the subject matter is anything but childish.
Basically, Bruno is a privileged little boy whose cosy, protected life is suddenly changed when his father lands a new job and the family have to move from his beloved house in the city to something a little less grand in the middle of nowhere.
bereft of friends and extended family, Bruno becomes a lonely little soul and desperately seeks new friends wherever he can find them.
He eventually manages this and now has someone to whom he can bemoan his sad existence in this new place.
One criticism I have is that Bruno seems a tad 'slow'. It's not mentioned that he has any sort of learning difficulties, but he's certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I think if his age had been set at 6 or 7, it might have been a little more plausible. He doesn't even seem aware that the biggest confrontation in human history is going on all around him. perhaps it's his sheltered upbringing, but the character seemed incredibly naive for a nine year old...or maybe I'm just comparing him to the buckie-guzzling, dope-smoking, car-thieving pre-pubescent hoodies littering the streets around these parts...bless.
However, it's this very naivety that makes the story work. The reader is led, step-by-step, from a nondescript beginning to a rather more grisly end.
It would have been easy enough to write a more violent and realistic account of the goings on in that part of the world at that particular time, but that's all been done before and I think the author pulled off a bit of a masterstroke in using a naive, self-centred little mummy's boy to walk us through this tale.
You know what's being referred to even if Bruno doesn't.
All in all, a thought provoking read. It's not a long book at 216 pages, and the vocabulary is anything but taxing, but it expresses a viewpoint not often recorded, that of children in extraordinary situations. I read this book in two sittings over three or so hours...on the one hand, it's a very easy read but in many ways it's anything but.
Every few years or so, there is a book that comes along which stands in a league of its own in terms of the impact that it has on the reader and the fact that you feel that you've been on a journey where ultimately your outlook on life is somewhat changed. John Boyne's "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" is one of those books and I really could not rate it highly enough.
This book is written from the perspective of nine year old Bruno during World War 2. After his family receive a visit from "The Fury" he and his family are moved to "Out-With" where his father is given an important job. Bruno is lonely at Out-With as he has had to leave his friends behind in Berlin and so, as 9 year old boys do, he starts to explore and is in search of adventure. It doesn't take him long to find the fence, a long barbed while fence which houses a kind of holiday camp filled with the stripped-pyjama people, and it is here that he meet Schmuel. Schmuel is on the other side of the fence and is one of the stripped pyjama people, a thin and gaunt little boy with a shaved head and a worry etched on his face that is beyond his years. Bruno and Schmuel strike up a friendship across the fence - and it is this poignant image which is on the front of the book......two boys divided by a fence but also by a society that neither of them really understands or subscribes to.
The brilliance of this book is Boyne's ability to allow you to get inside the head of an innocent at a time where innocence was scarce. Bruno's main concern is a simple childhood wish to be able to play with Schmuel without the fence (or society) getting in the way. He remains ignorant to what really happens at Out-With (Auschwitz) and to the fact that his father as Commandant of Auschwitz is guilty of any atrocities. Any anger that Bruno exhibits about his life is focussed on Lieutenant Kotler for calling him "Little Man" and for his sister for being such a "Hopeless Case". Bruno simply wants to be able to play with Schmuel - and that's as simple as it gets.
The shock and grief I felt at the ending of this book is something that has stayed with me long after I turned the final page. I saw the ending coming....but kept reading, hoping that what I feared would not come to pass and that everyone would end up living happily ever after...even though I knew deep down that this wasn't going to happen. I remember reading the last pages slowly, putting off the inevitable conclusion which, although sad, is certainly not disappointing. I remember that having finished the book, I rushed into my sisters room because I felt that I HAD to talk about it to someone.
I feel so strongly about the message of this book and the beautiful way in which its narrative is presented that I truly believe it should be on every GCSE English or Social Studies book list in the country. This book allows you to feel the horrors of prejudice and racism from the unique perspective of a little boy who is completely surrounded by the evils of the holocaust but whose innocence and naivity leave him ignorant of what man is capable of doing to man. I found myself drawn in to this story and angered in a way that documentaries on the subject have never really been able to effectively evoke. Yes, we watch the documentaries saying how awful the holocaust was and that we can never allow it to happen again - and yet prejudice and racism is so endemic in our society that very often we don't even see it. This book opened my eyes to that and to the fact that we all need to take a stand and that we all can make a difference, even if its just to befriend one person and not listen to the bigotry that may be going on around us.
It is a short book and it was specifically written for the older child rather than adults, but don't let this put you off because this book is capable of crossing generations. I do believe that this book is suitable for any child from about 8 years old upwards but that an adult should read this book with any child. There is nothing graphic in the story and many younger children may simply be slightly bemused by the fence and the pyjama people. Children with slightly more understanding however may have questions and I think that there should be someone around who is prepared to answer these questions in a way that satisfies.
This book has come under some criticism because it is not based on a true story. One head Rabbi, for example, slated the book saying that a 9 year old child would have been aware of what was going on at Auschwitz and that there weren't any nine year old children there because they were gassed immediately. However, historical records reveal that Auschwitz did indeed have 619 male children under the age of 14 in 1944.
Anyway, the historical accuracy in the intricacies of this book are clearly not the point and I think such debate detracts from the message of this book and the beauty with which its been written. It is true that the narrative of this book may feel a little slow moving in parts, but the richness of the language do not ever let the book drag and I felt compelled to keep reading.
All in all, this is a fantastic book that I cannot praise highly enough. I have shared my book with several family members and friends and, without fail, they all talk about the impact this book had on them. The film doesn't even come close so give that a miss....unless you've read the book first. Seriously, EVERYONE should read it!
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas focuses on a German boy called Bruno who is part of a very powerful family living in Berlin during WW2. After a call from "The Fury" his Father announces that they are moving to a place called "Out-with" which is far away from Berlin and perhaps not in Germany at all. The new House is bleak and from one side you can see a high wired compound home to sad looking people wearing striped pyjamas.
Bruno becomes very home sick; he longs for his house in Berlin but knows nothing of the war or why there here. His ignorance and interest cause him to take a little wander to the fence where he meets a resident of the other side of the fence called Schmuel. Bruno is very perplexed by Schmuel but also very interested, he wonders why the boy is constantly hungry, thin and why he can't cross the fence to join him. They strike up a good friendship across the fence and eventually his curiosity gets him into a bit of a conundrum. Enough said.
The book is written so innocently, as it is from the point of view of a 9 year old boy. John Boyne keeps the reader guessing. It is up to you to interpret what Out-with really means and who the Fury is. You at times feel very frustrated at Bruno for his pure ignorance. He thinks that he is in a perfectly normal place and he is doing nothing wrong. He doesn't know about Nazis or Jews and this it was causes the surprising ending and creates great drama.
I recommend this book to people of all ages, it is very moving and interesting. Well worth picking up.
I have just finished reading The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne and oh my goodness, I simply had to come here afterward and review it!
I had purposefully not watched the movie (though it is next on my list) or read any other reviews on here as I wanted to read it 'cold', and so the only knowledge I had of this book is that it is about a little boy, who was seemingly unaffected by the Holocaust, meets another little boy at the fence to Auschwitz.
And in a nutshell, that's what it is. The book starts off with little Bruno, 9 years of age, living in Berlin with his mother and his father and his sister Gretel. Suddenly, they have to leave, as his father, following a dinner with an important man, gets a promotion. They move to a smaller house, constantly visited by soldiers who click their boots together and salute, and look up to his father. Bruno knows nothing of the war, or of the Holocaust, and despite now living on the very perimiter fence of Poland's most feared concentration camp, knows only his own little bubble. Bruno feels very hard done by - his big house taken away, his friends a distant memory, and the view from his window a solemn sort of holiday camp, where all the residents get to wear pyjamas all day long, and have lots of friends.
Until one day he meets Schmuel. He doesn't know why Schmuel is so thin, why his head has been shaven and why he can't play with him. But he is glad of the company and the two little boys forge a friendship of sorts, on each side of the fence.
I can't really go much further into the plot than this - it's as far as the trailer for the movie goes, and I think that's about far enough. All I can say is - you'll learn to love Bruno, and the ending..the ending blows you away. As Bruno would say, it makes your mouth do an O.
The childlike way that the horrors of the war are described (Bruno describes how 'The Fury' came to dinner with 'the beautiful lady', and thinks their home is pronounced 'Out-With') without fully realising their tragedy is what makes this book so touching and ultimately so shocking. It's testament to the innocence of children that he simply accepts what is going on and can see no wrong in it - not through prejudice, but through love and respect for his father. Bruno never describes his father as a Nazi, doesn't understand what a Jew is or why it is so bad, and wants to help Schmuel, as his friend.
The book has a rather slow pace, and you'd be forgiven for thinking it isn't going anywhere fast. Truth is, it doesn't, really. It tells a thousand stories in each little comment Bruno notes, but never goes deeply into them - doesn't have to. There are lots of books out there that describe the horrors of the Holocaust - this isn't one of those. It's a beautiful work of fiction, based around a little boy, at the time of the Holocaust. An entirely different thing.
Maybe if Bruno's parents had been more honest with him, then his naivete would not have been his ultimate weakness. There is a lot of criticism around this book, in that people find it hard to accept that a nine year old boy wouldn't be aware of the world situation. But I find it believable - this is a nine year old boy in the early 1940s, not the modern day, and without any alternative children believe what they are told - or not told. Who could imagine anything so horrifying actually happening? It wouldn't have been in the average child's realm of imagination.
Of course, it is important to bear in mind that it's a work of fiction. But it's well written, very sad, very honest, and believable way, and it serves as a very stark warning from the past that humanity is capable of some terrible wrongs.
You'll learn to love Bruno, see the weaknesses of his family, and, even though Schmuel isn't as central as I would have imagined him to be from the title - there is a VERY just reason for that.
Three words. Read this book.
I borrowed this book from a friend at work who told me that i would really enjoy it. It is set in the time of the Holocaust where Bruno a young boy, the main character, find himself being moved from his hometown to house situated on the outskirts of the concentration camp because his father has been given a promotion within the Nazi's.
The book is written from Bruno's viewpoint which is extremely touching and works very well. The innocence of Bruno will leave you wiping the tears away. Bruno befriends a Jewish boy of similar age and you are guided through their friendship and how they are so similar yet have seemingly different paths in life. Their friendship is conducted through the barbed wire fence and Bruno naively believes that the camp is an exciting and fun place to spend time.
One day Bruno decides to help his new friend find his father and enters the camp. I will not say anymore about the book other than DONT be tempted to read the ending early!
The book is a page turner and although its not particularly long it left me in tears.
This story set in Germany in World War Two times, and is told through the eyes of a young boy. It offers a unique and refreshing veiwpoint of a Nazi-Germany from the innocence of youth, with the story centering aound a developing friendship between the stories lead character and an unlikely compadre.
I found the book to be quite slow-paced and to be honest, if it wasn't such a short read then I would have probably given up on it. Although the concept of 'seeing through the boys eyes' was endearing, this simply wasn't enough to fully keep me encaptured throughout.
However, without giving too much away, upon finishing the book I was really glad that I stuck at it... you really need to read it to know what I mean!!! I even found myself reading the last section again immediately after. I woudn't class this as one of my favorite reads, but I would certainly recommend it.
This is a story about a 9 year old boy called Bruno, who is the son of a German SS Officer during WWII and the Holocaust. Although there are many, many accounts and stories of the war and the Holocaust to available to read, this one is unique in that it tells it's story from the viewpoint of innocent young Bruno.
The beauty of this is that it allows the author to cover very heavy, dark themes, such as the burning of people in the crematorium and the attitude of the Germans in the story toward the Jews, with all the gory details being glossed over by Bruno innocent reasoning. Bruno misses his friends (whose names he has increasing difficulty remembering as the story develops) and all he wants to do is make some new friends but strange, inconceivable events are happening all around him.
The book also has a a totally unexpected ending. A great ending to a great book
The boy in the striped pyjama's is a children's story book set in Germany and Poland through the Second World War, I was aware of this book before the film came out, and read it.
The way the book is written is quite clearly written in a style for children and with what I found, as an adult rather annoyingly repetitive in parts. The language is simpler although there are a few words that I found more adult in which a child would perhaps struggle with.
The format is written as it is happening; the main character in the book in 9 year old Bruno, the books explores his relationship with both his parents and sister on a big move during the Second World War.
Even as an adult and knowing about the Holocaust I found the way this book was written, very interesting. It really does portray a firsthand experience, even though the book is fictional. Which is an important note, the book is fictional and the events in the book didn't necessarily happen but unfortunately there were those facts that were historically accurate as well.
The book was a bit boring in parts, I know it isn't a jam packed adventure book but I found it a bit dull and in such a short book I wouldn't think this ideal. However, I think the book is really focused on a child's mind in the way it is written and they are concentrating on it being a mild adventure for the reader and Bruno, it still carries a lot of innocence that myself as an adult can no longer relate to.
This book only has 200 pages (approx) and is not as clear as it could be, I think it could be either very good for children or confuse them. For those that know about the Holocaust and have heard the name Auschwitz then this will ring a bell and they will understand the setting. But for those children who do not know about the Second World War and general history of wartime then this will perhaps go over their heads or they will enjoy joining Bruno on his adventure.
I just think that not all children have a great basis for education these days and especially as many of the older generation who fought and were alive in the war are no longer here to tell us of their experiences, I think the younger generation miss out on that vital part of our history.
I found the book readable and enjoyed the way most of the storyline was portrayed, even if it was on a horrible subject.
I did though, find the end predictable and when I was about 50 pages from the end, I knew what the ending would be. I don't like books when I can predict the ending, to me it means it has failed to captivate me and I get bored. I suppose the only response I can have though to the predictable ending is, this book is a child's book and perhaps a simple idea and one they perhaps haven't thought of, if they don't know that much about the Second World War then this is an ending to make an impact.
This has to be one of the best books I've ever read in my life. I had low expectations after looking at the cover - very bland i thought, but how wrong was I. The author was trying to give a simple cover in contrast to the content of this book and I reckon that was very effective. It shows the reality of WWII, for both the Germans and Jews, and shows just how similar these people actually are. You feel sympathy towards each of the boys starring in this book, as one of them is totally oblivious and has no idea there was conflict going on in both sides, and it really shows that everyone is just human, no one more equal than each other. It's an emotional read. I was thinking in my head, i want this book to go on forever, as it was extremely well thought out and engaging, and especially since the story is a subject most people don't like to pick up on.
It's about an 8 year old boy called Bruno who lived in Berlin until his family had to move to the countryside because of his dad's work. Bruno never really understood what his dad's work involved, or much about the conflict going on between the German people and the Jews during World War II. Because of his curiosity, Bruno decided to explore the area after he saw what he thought was a "farm" and he came across a fence, with a boy on the otherside called Shmual. Bruno's fate changed on that very day, his whole life altered because of meeting this boy. I won't reveal anymore.
After reading this book, it made me think about things, such as war and conflict and that it really causes many problems. I'm sure once you read this you will ask yourself similar questions and it may help make yourself a better person so you don't judge things before knowing the truth. I was naive enough not to know about these things, and this book told me things I'd never known before. I was in a whole new world; I've always been quite biased towards books, thinking that movies are the only way to have imaginations and stories in your head, but after being assigned to read this as a class homework, I've realized books are misjudged. This book especially has that quality i look for in a book now - and i now know it's success shows as it's been released as a film. You don't want me to reveal to much, it's something worth finding out on yourself. DEFINITELY recommended!
I thought this story was more of a childrens book, but I was surprised at how serious and adult it really is. I think it takes a bit of background knowledge on the actions of the Nazi party in the Second World War to understand the subtleties that are hinted at throughout, however it is easy enough to follow the plot.
Bruno lives in Berlin with his family, but is only 9 years old when his family relocates to Auschwitz where his father is based as a high powered Nazi. Bruno is just an innocent 9 year old who wants to play with his friends, and, naturally, he doesn't understand all the changes that have taken place for him. Although written in the third person, the story is aminly from Bruno's point of veiw, and his observations and comments are often funny and adorabe. His innocence is what makes this book so touching, and makes the end seem even more sad and really shows the injustices that take place in War, even to those who are not involved.
It was seeing adverts for the film version of this that made me want to pick up the book and read it before seeing the film - I'm a big believer in the fact that the book version of most things is usually more detailed and interesting that the film, so I tend to like to read it first.
Now, picking up a copy of this book, there isn't a lot about the cover to tell you what the story is about - there are various covers, including one depicting an image from the film , however my copy came with a very simple cover - merely blue and white horizontal stripes on the front cover, with the book title and the authors name.
The blurb on the back is very vague too, simply letting us know that Bruno's life is to be disrupted through a move of house, and that he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
Still pretty vague - so I figured I'd better read the book .
Bruno lives a life of relative luxury, in a big old house is the centre of Berlin with his mother, father, sister, and assorted servants. His dad is a well paid SS officer, his mum a stay at home housewife, and he himself is popular, with plenty of friends .
His world is disrupted when his dad gets a a visit from 'the fury' (which his sister informs him he is pronouncing wrong) and as a result, a promotion - suddenly Bruno has to move away from the life and the house he loves, away from his friends and his grandparents, to a new home in a strange place called 'out-with'.
And what a strange place it is - areas of the garden are off limits, curtailing his exploring adventures, and although he can see a farm with children from his bedroom window , he isn't allowed to play with these children. He's not sure he wants to either - they seem slightly odd, wearing pyjamas all day.
What is more, soldiers keep trooping in and out of his house, closeting themselves in meetings with his father, and even one of the farmers, Pavel, turns up at the house sometimes, peeling vegetable and making deliveries, and telling grand stories about once practising as a doctor . Of course, he couldn't have been much of a doctor if he had to practice so much, Bruno thinks . Bruno becomes progressively more lonely as events wear on .
One day , Bruno manages to find a way into the 'out of bounds' area of the garden, and explores. Finding a long, high fence, he follows it, and comes face to face with one of the strange children wearing Pyjamas, Shmuel . They form a friendship, a friendship challenged by being either side of the fence, and by facts Bruno later learns from his tutor about the Jews .
Can this friendship prosper ? Will Shmuel and Bruno ever find themselves together on the same side of the fence ? And can there ever be a 'kind' Jew ?
Its pretty clear pretty early on that this book is about the Holocaust, and it's very simple to figure out what 'the fury' and 'out-with' refer to . I think it's unusual for a book about WWII to look at things from the perspective of a very naiive child, but it works really rather well - events and awareness happen slowly, and the tension builds page by page.
Being told from a childs perspective, it uses simple narrative to ilustrate Brunos growing awareness of the situation. I've seen a lot of reviews criticising the innocence of this character, but it really is perfectly possible that he wouldn't have been told much about the war, and the concentration camps in particular . SS commanders were, during the war, forbidden to reveal the fact to their families that jews were being put to death - we've all seen the propaganda videos promoting concentration camps as almost a Butlins holiday camp .
It's even more plausible that a parent at the time may well have wanted to hide some of the more unpalatable aspects of the war from their children - after all, many people believed the war would be over quickly, so why scare a young child with nightmarish tales .
It's slightly less realistic that a young German child would have mis-heard The Fuhrer as 'the fury' ar Aushwitz as 'out-with' - these just wouldn;t translate the same way in German - However, inaccurate though they may be, they do help to illustrate Bruno's young age and his innocence .
However, the book does not present itself as a factual work - it's not a biography, or an autobiography, it's simply a fictional story that happens to be set against an all to real series of historical events, and shows us a sampleof the atrocities of the Second World War in from a unique viewpoint .
Although this is marketed as a childrens book, I do feel it might not be so suitable for younger children . This isn't anything to do with any kind of graphic scenes, although there are a couple of particularly harrowing and heart wrenching moments . I simply feel that at least a little background knowledge of the events of the Second World War, and in particular, the Holocaust, is really useful in giving this book such a great depth - because for me, the depth in the book came from seeing Bruno hurtling towards understanding the horrors that many of us have known for years .
I love this book - its by turns lightly amusing, very shocking, and incredibly incredibly sad. 5 stars
I read this book at university after I had already seen the film at the local cinemas. The film was good but the book was truly moving as you see the character Bruno attempt to understand his fathers job and why his life is changing so much. The synopsis on the back of the book tells that you are going to go on a journey of Bruno's life.
Bruno is a young child who has a father who works as a kommandant. As a result of his fathers job, the family is forced to move next to a concentration camp... and Bruno does not know what it is... he describes it as 'people in striped pyjamas'. He asks his mother numerous questions but she tries to stop his innocence from being corrupted and tells him many lies.
Bruno likes to think of himself as an explorer and so he sets off to explore the concentraion camp which he thinks is some sort of farm. Once at the metal fence, he sees a little boy sat in the dirt called Schmauel. Bruno then makes a true friend but he is unable to understand why his friend dresses so differently in' striped pyjamas'. His naiivety is so moving as he does not understand that this little boy is infact Jewish. It shows Bruno develop a friendship with the little boy and he remains so loyal as a friend as he treks each day to pass food through the fence to the little boy in pyjamas. One day Schmauel is called to clean the glasses at brunos fathers house and bruno sees him and gives him some food. The guards then walk in on Schmauel eating the bread and ask where he got it from. Schmauel replieds that Bruno gave him it but Bruno denys any knowledge of it to save himself from being told of... he is unaware of the devastating consequences that Schmauel faces. It is heartbreaking when Schmauel is beaten black and blue by the guards. Despite this, Schmauel is still happy to be Bruno's friend when he visits him everyday at the fence.
The end is somewhat upsetting and as a reader I can guarantee that you will be both moved and intrigued by this emotional book. The twist at the end was unexpected and enticing. I hope you enjoy it as much as i did.