It has been said that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. It has been nearly 70 years since the end of World War II and the atrocities that were perpetrated by Nazi Germany. For residents of northern California, visits to the Tauber Holocasut Library can help remind and educate about that historical period. Reading well-written books is another way to remember and learn. Although not a newly released book, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, is one that should be required reading for everyone of high school age and older. It provides a child-like look at what happened during Hitler’s terrifying reign of Germany.
Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Publisher: David Fickling Books (2006)
List Price: $8.99
The protagonist of this book is Bruno, a nine-year-old boy who lives with his mother, father, and sister in a five-story home in Berlin. After an important guest has dinner with his parents it is announced that the family is packing up the house and moving elsewhere. Father is a man to watch and the Fury has big plans for him. Bruno isn’t quite sure what all of this means, but he knows he doesn’t want to leave his three best friends for life behind in Berlin. He certainly doesn’t want to move to Out-With with his sister, the Hopeless Case as his only playmate! After time spent at Out-With however, Bruno makes a friend, Shmuel. For some reason, though, Shmuel lives on the other side of a great fence and is always wearing striped pajamas and sometimes has bruises that he would rather not talk about.
Without giving anymore of the plot away – although it is hard to imagine anyone who hasn’t read this book or seen the movie of the same name – this is an incredibly moving tale of the friendship that develops between two young boys who have no idea that they shouldn’t be friends. (Well, at least one boy is unaware of that fact.) On the inside title page of this book is the sub-heading ‘a fable’ and that title is aptly placed. This story is almost fairy tale-like in the way the text flows from one event to the next. There is the awful older sister, the mysterious goings-on in Father’s office, and the strange dinner guest known as the Fury. It all becomes more and more terrifying as the reader nears the end of the tale. It even ends in a way that all fables do, with a moral; a moral that hopefully, each reader will take to heart.
Rarely, if ever is the movie anywhere near the same quality as the book. This Examiner actually saw the movie first and must say, the producers of the film were nearly spot on with the tone of the book. Of course, the book is better (isn’t it always?) but the movie is most certainly worth watching as well.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is available online from retailers like Amazon, Biblio.com, and Powell’s. It can also be found at independent bookstores like these in northern California.
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