Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Plot Summary:
When Bruno came home, he finds Maria packing his things. Not knowing why the maid is going through his personal belongings, his mother said that they are leaving Berlin because his father has been promoted and they must move. Bruno is not happy about leaving because all of his friends and grandparents are in Berlin. Unfortunately, Bruno cannot change his father's mind and, when they arrive at the new house, it is far from what he is used to. In fact, this place is nicknamed "Out-With" because the last person who occupied this house was "out with" everything else. While unpacking this things, Bruno notices (outside his windows) a large open area with small buildings, huts, and people. When Bruno shows Gretel, his incorrigible sister, they noticed that there are children in there as well. However, Gretel refuses to play with them because they are dirty and they are wearing nothing but striped pajamas. Since Bruno is unable to find a playmate, he finds ways to entertain himself, which tend to get him in to trouble. Despite a few scrapes and scratches, Bruno decides to explore the grounds and the fence, which is strictly forbidden. When he arrives, he sees a boy named Shmuel who just happens the be the same age as Bruno. Although they don't understand why there is a fence between them, both of them have decided to be friends. As time goes by, Bruno and Shmuel get to know one another and Bruno has accepted the fact that he won't be going back to Berlin, which is okay because he has Shmuel. However, when Bruno's mother decides it's time to go back, Bruno must say goodbye, but not without one more adventure, which leads to tragedy.   

Critical Evaluation:
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a moving story of two young boys who are untouched by the evils of the world. Although Bruno is much more sheltered than Schmuel, Schmuel looks beyond the fact that his father is the camp Commandant and accepts Bruno for who he is. I think what Schmuel has a hard time understanding is Bruno's kindness because he hasn't seen that in a long time and the fact that a German would want to befriend a Jew. The most prevalent theme in this story is that ignorance doesn't always mean bliss. Bruno demands that people explain to him why he is on side of the fence and Schmuel is on the other side, but no one will. Bruno is literally untouched by the hate that walks in and out of his house daily that he couldn't fathom what was really going on in the camp. Is it possible that if someone actually told him why the Jews are behind fences, would it have changed the outcome? Maybe not because Bruno can't stand the soldiers, nor can he stand "The Fury."  Boyne does an amazing job conveying to readers how precious innocence is because Bruno can't even pronounce "Auschwitz" and "The Fuhrer" properly no matter how many times he is corrected. As for Schmuel, who is the opposite of Bruno, has seen the hate and it is slowly starting to show, especially when he tells Bruno he could never like his father because he is a soldier. Although the ending is totally unexpected, the culprits for this tragedy lies solely on the shoulders of the adults who refuse to love one another despite their differences. Although this story is unbelievably heart-wrenching, it's also a tale of friendship that will last for all time.

Information about the Author:
According to his website:
I was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1971, and studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, and creative writing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where I was awarded the Curtis Brown prize.
My early writing consisted mostly of short stories and the first one I published, The Entertainments Jar, was shortlisted for the Hennessy Literary Award in Ireland. Many of my stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies.
I’ve published 8 novels for adults and four for younger readers, including The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas which was a New York Times no.1 Bestseller and was made into a Miramax feature film. It has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide.

My novels are published in 47 languages.

Tween Historical Fiction, Tween War Stories

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 7 & up

Books Similar to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas:

Awards & Recognition:

"Certain to be one of the publishing sensations of 2006." -The Observer (U.K.)

"A memorable and moving story." -The Oxford Times (U.K.)

"A small wonder of a book." -The Guardian (U.K.)

"A book so simple, so seemingly effortless, that it's almost perfect." -The Irish Independent"An extraordinary book." -The Irish Examiner

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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