The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

Paperback | October 23, 2007

byJohn Boyne

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“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.

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From the Publisher

“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 th...

From the Jacket

"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 ExaminerFrom the Hardcover...

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...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 8.31 × 5.56 × 0.5 inPublished:October 23, 2007Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385751532

ISBN - 13:9780385751537

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17


Rated 5 out of 5 by from written very well I read this book a few years ago after my history class watched the movie. I cried for the movie, but not for the book because I knew the ending due to watching the movie first so I could prepare myself for the ending. But I highly recommend this book to people to read. I read it in one night because I could not put the book down at all.
Date published: 2016-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved This I read it at school and it brought me to tears
Date published: 2015-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It was great I finished this a week ago and i want to re read it already.
Date published: 2015-10-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good book this book was emotional but at the same time you couldn't stop reading i really recomend this
Date published: 2015-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful story This is easily one of the best books I have ever read! A beautiful, thoughtful and, even at times, funny tale. Would recommend to any adult.
Date published: 2015-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly Emotional Read This novel was thoroughly devastating with extreme emotional impact. The writing was simple and hugely effective.
Date published: 2014-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Children's book on the Holocaust? Extraordinary writing. Masterfully written from a child's perspective, yet vivid and heart-wrenching. Both a "easy read" and a "not-so-easy read".
Date published: 2013-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So sad, so real I read this book several years ago, and still I think of it. Because it involves two young boys, innocent and curious, it takes a mask off of the Holocaust's effect on people on both sides of the fence, literally, but especially on waifs who have no choices. A sad story, well told.
Date published: 2013-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The innocence of youth This book is an absolute gem! Bruno is a wide-eyed, pampered, innocent 9-year old boy and this story is told from his point of view. His father is a high ranking official in Hitler's army. The family moves to live in view of a concentration camp and we see it all through Bruno's eyes. Bruno befriends a boy his age through the fence that separates their worlds. Bruno doesn't understand why they can't visit eachother to play, why this boy "gets" to wear striped pajamas rather than the uncomfortable shirt and pants Bruno wears, and why this boy has lots of boys to play with, and Bruno has none. It is a striking contrast in existences, told with sincere innocence by Bruno in all his mis-understanding. To the extent that one can enjoy a book about this subject-matter, it was absolutely enthralling. Bruno's narration was a joy. The story is one not to be missed. The ending is unspeakable. A must-read for all ages.
Date published: 2013-09-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wow! 4.5 stars Bruno is a 9-years old and lives in Berlin with his sister and parents. It is 1943. When he comes home from school one day to find his mom and the maid packing, he is quite upset to find out that they will be moving. Bruno's father works for “The Fury” and he is being transferred. After the move, while living in a house just outside “Out-With”, Bruno sees and hears things he doesn't quite understand. I was going to rate this 4 stars through most of the book, but then the ending hit and I was blown away! Wow! That was completely unexpected! Told from a 9-year old's point of view, I thought the audio was extra powerful due to it being the voice of a young boy. There are times I got frustrated with Bruno being so selfish sometimes, but I just reminded myself that he is only a 9-year old boy, and he just doesn't really understand. My audio also had an interview with the author at the end, which was very interesting. He talked a little bit about some of the negative reactions to the book, and his reasons for writing it the way he did and making the choices he made for the book.
Date published: 2013-08-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Boy in the striped pajamas I would definitely recommend this book to other people in between the ages of 11-15, because it does have some tragic parts in it and also some complex words in it that younger kids would not understand. The reading level of this book is probably advanced because you have to know a little bit about the holocaust to understand this book. This book is good for both genders because it is not written for anyone particular. I know other people that have read this book and loved it too, that's why I encourage you to read it!
Date published: 2013-06-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Powerful Ending I found the boy in the striped pajamas was ok. But i found the plot was really slow and never seemed to speed up or get to the climax till the ending. It's the kind of book that you think will pick up the pace but never does. I also thought that the characters were good but could have been described better. I thought the ending was really powerful though. It really made me think about things and really feel something.
Date published: 2013-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful and heartwarming The Boy in The Striped Pajamas is an amazing read for all ages. John Boyne is an author that brings power and truth to everything he writes. This is a touching book, with an ending that brought tears to my eyes. Since The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is about an 8-year-old boy, the writing and thoughts that the author talks about is what a little boy would think and talk about, which is something that you don't find to much of these days. A times, this book can drag on, and John did add extra details that werent nessesary. But, other then that, this book is a book that kept me interested throughout the whole thing. This is a new fresh way of looking at what people did during the time this book takes place in. It really and truly makes you think about the events of that time.
Date published: 2012-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful and touching I loved the writing style of this novel; the perspective of the rich German child was very realistic. Bruno was obedient and respectful, completely innocent and unaware of what was happening in Nazi Germany. He probably didn't even know that his father was the Commandant of the camp. I really liked how the German words were misinterpreted by Bruno, such as Out-With (for Auschwitz) and Fury (for Furor). Bruno had eventually learned that everyone had a story, even the servants. It was interesting reading how Bruno progressively discovered what was going on in the new place he was living. Excellent read. This was truly moving.
Date published: 2012-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extremely Powerful! You'll be touched by the story of a young boy who sees Nazi Germany through innocent eyes. Tough to read at times but very moving.
Date published: 2012-08-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from My heart goes out to him Great read. I recommend this for teachers who are discussing the Holocaust in class. I love that it is told from the perspecitve of a young boy, yet it relates to the many troubles and concerns of adult life.
Date published: 2012-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS Story Description: Random House Children's Books | October 23, 2007 | Trade Paperback 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 from their home to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see 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 to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences. My Review: Bruno is nine-years-old when he arrives home from school one day to find the maid, Maria packing up the belongings in his room. He becomes very upset and demands to know what is going on when his mother comes into the room and asks him to meet her downstairs in the dining room. Bruno is so anxious that he speeds past his mother and his waiting for her downstairs before she even has a chance to step off the first stair. She tells Bruno that his father has received an important promotion and they must leave Berlin and move to another city and live in another house. Bruno, of course, is quite upset as he doesn’t want to leave his beloved home nor his three best friends. His mother assures him that things will be alright and that the whole family including: Bruno; his twelve-year-old sister, Gretel; their father; the maid, Maria; the butler, Lars; and Cook will all be moving together. When they arrive at the new house Bruno is very disappointed as it sat almost in the middle of nowhere with no other homes nearby nor markets or stores. All Bruno can see from the window of his new bedroom is a fence with barbed wire on top, some huts in the distance, and older men, younger men, and boys all wearing the same grey striped pajamas and grey striped cap with soldiers watching them. He doesn’t even know what his father’s job is. What is this place and what could possibly be his father’s job working with all these dirty, filthy people all dressed the same? He wants to be an explorer so decides to go for a walk. He follows the fence along for quite a distance until he comes to a piece of fencing where he sees a small boy. The boy approaches the fence and he and Bruno and make introductions and begin talking. The boy’s name is Shmuel, he is the same age as Bruno and even shares the same birthday. During an entire year, naïve Bruno brings his new friend bread, cheese and cake most days as the boy doesn’t have enough to eat. One day Bruno is told by his father that his mother, Gretel and Bruno will be returning to Berlin while he stays and continues working at the same job. He tells Bruno that it is no place to raise children and he’d be much happier back in Berlin. Bruno is devastated, he doesn’t want to go back to Berlin now because he doesn’t want to leave Shmuel but they plan to have a last day together like no other bringing the story to a crashing end! I was totally taken aback at the ending and didn’t expect it at all. John Boyne has written a book about nine-year-olds that isn’t for nine-year-olds as it says on the back cover of the novel. Don’t miss this one people, it’ll surprise you and break your heart so have some kleenex standing by. Beautifully and hauntingly written.
Date published: 2012-04-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from WELL EXPRESSED!!! I really loved this book, this book was really well thought out, and showed how a small boy (Bruno) can be socially outcasted, whith out evening knowing what is going on in the world around him.. Spectacular
Date published: 2012-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Boy in The Striped Pajamas An amazing story about Nazi atrocities from a nine year olds point of view. A quick read, but it is a book that will make you think.
Date published: 2011-10-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne Let me start off this review by stating a simple fact about me. Whenever possible, I generally watch the movie before I read the book. This is because I feel that it's the best way to get the best of both worlds. In the past, when reading the book first, the movie has almost always been a huge disappointment because so much was left out, or the ending was changed, etc. When watching the movie first you get the great visuals and enjoy the story, and usually the book adds more depth later, and even if it ends differently it can usually be forgiven. For The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, the movie far surpassed the book...and that's not saying much... Let's start with the main character Bruno. He is a 9 year old boy who is so naive he come across of being closer to the age of 6. He is also incredibly selfish and I found him to be quite unlikable. What kind of writer creates a main character that people can't like? In fact I don't think I liked a single character! Oh wait...there was a Jewish slave named Pavel that was the only realistic character of the bunch. And at one point after an altercation he never is mentioned again. And even though we can ASSUME what MAY have happened to him...the reader is given no closure on the issue. The movie does a much better job of showing this. The circumstances surrounding this story are completely unrealistic as well. I'm sorry but I have a hard time wrapping my head around how a nine year boy who is the son of a major member of the German military has no idea what a Jew is, what "Heil Hitler" means or what is going in the camp behind his new house. It's ridiculous. I mean I don't profess to know a whole lot about what occurred during those years, but I do remember that German children had to be part of a youth group. Also the fact that there happened to be an unpatrolled stretch of the camp's fence, that was also not attached firmly to the ground allowing it to be lifted up enough for items as large as a small child to be passed under is completely unbelievable. It's too bad though...because the writing itself was quite good and I did like the point the author was trying to make about Bruno and Shmuel being the same even though one was German and the other Jewish. I just think he weighed to heavily on the hopes of his readers being stupid and naive to drive the point home with a very dramatic, but very improbable ending. At first I thought I was being extremely harsh on the book, but glancing around through reviews of fellow readers I was relieved to find I wasn't the only one who felt this way. I won't give it a one because the writing was just couldn't save this story.
Date published: 2011-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas This book sets place in Nazi Germany, through the perspective of young Bruno, the son of a Nazi Soldier. Bruno and his family move to the country for his father's job, however, he is forbidden to explore the area. This only motivates Bruno more to go exploring, so he does. He eventually reaches a tall electric fence with a boy wearing striped pajamas on the other side. They quickly become friends, and his explorations become daily. Bruno is jealous of the boy, because the other side of the fence is filled with other children, while all Bruno has is his silly older sister. This book is touching and it particularly made my heart wrench, since I have a young brother around his age. The novel is very short, and it is all through the eyes of a child. However, I do not recommend reading this book to any child. Mature teens and adults is who I would recommend this too. The only reason that I do not give this book 5 'stars' is because I've heard from different sources that the book wasn't entirely historically accurate. This was historical fiction, but a lot of the facts were incorrect. However, the message remains the same.
Date published: 2010-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from really great book One of my favourite books, I liked it.
Date published: 2010-07-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from One of those rare cases where the movie far outshines the book I had already written a review for this novel yesterday, but after watching the film today I thought better of the opinions I shared, and have decided to start afresh. I suppose I was a bit stubborn in my dislike of the tale originally because I was so profoundly insulted by John Boyne’s one dimensional characters and their contrived circumstances. However, if it weren’t for his creativity in writing this fable, however flawed and in need of amending, we would not have the deeply moving motion picture that Mark Herman has presented us with. Boyne’s fable left me shocked at the naivety of the commandants family members, as it is my understanding that children of the Reich were raised in the thick of propaganda, where manipulation started early by learning hate through the "Jungvolk” movement, followed by the Hitler Youth at 14, this all in order to properly groom them to eventually fight for the fatherland. The writing style he used of repeating phraseology was also a drain, and I’m not quite sure what the point was. Grammatically speaking, his inability to stick to either the American (pajamas) spellings, or the British (pyjamas) ones, I found to be annoying, but I may just be nitpicking there. Ultimately, this is a story about the sincere kindness found in innocence, how we aren’t born with hatred, we are taught it, and unfortunately, how the sins of the father fall upon the son. In my opinion, and I doubt that you’ll read these words from me in regards to any other story, skip the book and just rent the film. Just don’t forget the Kleenex…
Date published: 2010-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow... is right! I had to go to the "teens" section to get this book. They should have it in the "adults" fiction section as well. This book is not just for youngsters. It was great. Haven't seen the movie, doubt I ever will. I like how things play out in my head.
Date published: 2010-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow... what a brilliantly crafted piece of fiction. The perspective from which the story is told gives such a harsh reality a strange innocence. I read it in one sitting and did not want it to end. Brilliant.
Date published: 2009-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Memorable One of the best things that can be said about a book is that it is memorable - that the characters to not leave you once the pages are turned. I was very disappointed by the ending though. I watched the movie before reading, and I was moved to tears watching the mother's reaction, but the ending in the book was very detached.
Date published: 2009-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extrordinary This book broke my heart! The characters are wonderfully developed and having it down from a young boys' point of view was brilliant. The ending is taunting and leaves you thinking about it for days after you put it down. John Boyne has created a amazing novel, a must read.
Date published: 2009-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read!! This is an amazing book from start to finish. It reads quickly and you are at the end before you know it. It is a MUST READ!!!! Take the time to read this book won't be disappointed!!!
Date published: 2009-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down I actually saw the movie first. I'm not much of a book reader, i'll be honest but i loved the movie so much when i saw the book i just HAD to read it ( cause it's suppose to be better then the movie, right?). I will say the story was better in the book but i enjoyed the ending better in the movie. I have a new born baby so i don't have alot of time however, i finished this book within a day it was so good and well written. I think i just might read it again ...
Date published: 2009-09-08
Rated out of 5 by from "A wonderful, unsettling, thought provoking story of friendship" I had heard very little about this book until just recently when my daughter-in-law suggested I read it. Happened to be in the bookstore the other day, noticed it, and bought it. Had no idea really, what the book was about. From the moment I started this book, I could not put it down. I was finished this book in a couple of days, (finished about 1 week ago), and have not been able to get this book out of my mind. I have read and reread the last couple of chapters. I have read hundreds of books over the years, some good, some not so good, but I do not often find a book that leaves such a lasting impression on me. It left a lasting effect on me, and found it to be unsettling. Bruno and Shmuel prove to us all that we are not born hateful, but that hate is learned. I have not read much regarding the Holocaust. I just find it a very difficult subject to read about. I think this is a book I will never forget. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to read. I think it should be compulsory reading in Grade 8 or 9 English class. I do not want to give any of the story line away, all I can say is read this book, most will be deeply affected by it, and it should make you think a great deal. I have a top ten list of all time favourite books, and this one surely ranks in the top 5.
Date published: 2009-07-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and Well Written After hearing endless praise about this book, I decided to see for myself what the excitement was all about. Upon reading the novel, I had high expectations for it and I was not let down. I finished this book in two days, reading it every chance I had. The time setting of World War II in books has always interested me, so I knew this book would be a good choice. The book follows a 9 year old German boy named Bruno, whose father was in the Nazi army, from his hometown to "Outwith" and his adventures. I found that writing through a nine year old's eyes allowed for the reader to dig deeper into the meaning of each and every situation. The author did a beautiful job of writing through a nine year old's eyes without making the story too childish. Before I finished the first few chapters, I thought the content of the story was going to mildly childish but it turned out that the writing style really was for someone much older. I really enjoyed the dynamic between the boy in the striped pajamas, Shmuel, and Bruno because it allowed the reader to somewhat understand the two different sides of the story as well as see how naive both boys were to the situation at hand. Overall this book was a good read, I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the World War II era, and basically to anyone who wants a nice, short, interesting book!
Date published: 2009-06-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good story... Annoying character I understand that this story wouldn't have had the impact it did without that certain naiveté of a child, but I felt that Bruno was way too naive, bordering on being mentally challenged. Don't get me wrong I recommend this book, but the main character can be a little annoying at times.
Date published: 2009-06-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Surprising Novel When someone from my class told us all about this book, I did not want to read it because I am not the type of person who likes to learn or read about the Holocaust and historical events. Boy, was I wrong, this book was an exception! This book taught me a lot about the concentration camps and how terrible the family life could be if one of your parents worked on Hitler's side. This book also shows you how important family is no matter what type of situation you are in. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas also has a unique friendship involved with a concentration camp boy(jew) and a German boy who's dad works for Hitler. This book is a must read for anyone who likes historical events or even who doesn't!
Date published: 2009-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from poignant and moving This is the story of nine year old Bruno. Bruno is a young Berliner whose father is in the German armed forces in the 1940s. He has to move for his father's work to an isolated house in the middle of nowhere. Bruno loves to explore and soon finds himself on the other side of a fence from a boy with the same birthday as himself. The other boy is dressed in striped pajamas and is hungry and dirty. All that Bruno wants is a friend. This is a fabulous story about the naivety of the very young. I loved the wordplay also. Out-with the place that Bruno has to move to and The Fury is the head of the Nazis. Quite ingenious. However would one explain the concepts of the concentration camp to a child? "Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never encounter one"
Date published: 2009-06-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Beautiful/Sorrowful Story I knew from the beginning that this would be difficult to read, childrens book or not. The repetition of certain parts by Bruno the main character was at first a bit annoying to me until I saw the importance of it. First of all as a reminder for young readers and secondly, he is trying to remind himself and the more he repeats throughout the book, the more he seems to forget. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is a simply written story with so much meaning and symblism included it is sometime hard to imagine how Boyne kept it so simple. Bruno, a nine year old boy, is moved to Out-With with his family. He moves from 5 storey home in Berlin to a three-storey house in the middle of nowhere. He becomes very lonely because he has no friends to play with. One day when he is out exploring he ventures too close to the fence he is forbidden to go near. Here he meets Schmuel. He and Schmuel escape to see one another by the fence regularly. Out of sheer innocence neither of them fully understand why they are separated by a fence. Bruno sees many things while in Out-With that he doesn't understand. There are many things that happen that as an adult reader you would understand more then a child. One day Bruno hears that he will be moving back to Berlin, he goes to see Schmuel but he is very sad. Schmeuls dad has gone missing and he doesn't know where he might be. Bruno explains that he will be moving back home but promises to come the following day to go on an exploration of the "other side of the fence" and help find his father. The next day he meets Schmuel, places on a borrowed pair of striped pyjamas and his life is forever changed. A tale of how strong friendship can truly be, I think this book is a definite must read. I really liked Boynes comment in the interview included at the end of the book, that this is neither a childs nor adults book, it is a book. The story captures you and engages you as a reader. I found it hard to put down even though it is an extremely sensitive issue. I am not sure if I would suggest that young readers do read this book, I guess that it would depend on their maturity. However, I do see this as a great teaching tool to introduce the concept of the Holocaust. The only part that I did not like was the ending. I found it rather abrupt and it didn't fit very well to me, that is the only reason I gave it four stars, otherwise it would have been 5 for sure. I will definitely read this story to my son when I think he is old enough to understand and appreciate the content.
Date published: 2009-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a great book this book really and truely opened my eyes to a lot. if only everyone saw through the eyes of a nine year old. the way john boyne showed the stupidty of racism by doing jus that (looking through the eyes of a nine year old) was genious. the ending was a shock that had me in tears. i recommend that everyone reads this book.
Date published: 2009-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotionally Eloquent I read this book in one day, and it has become one of the best stories I have ever read. The story is based on a 9 year old that thinks like most children. I could not put the book down, and was not looking forward to the ending, but knew it had to come. The story was eloquently written, and emotionally breathtaking. I pu the book down after reading it, and sobbed my heart out. The story lets us know that friendship can come from anywhere, and fences are only man made. Anyone can take down a fence, and this story lets us know how important it is to be real and true to mankind no matter what. I highly recommend this book, but have kleenex beside you, it will punch you in the gut like nothing ever experienced.
Date published: 2009-03-28
Rated out of 5 by from Highly Recommended This is a fantastic book by Irish author John Boyne. His main character is a young German boy, Bruno, who moves close to a concentration camp and eventually befriends a Jewish boy who is the same age. I completely disagree with those who say this is not a book for children - the opposite is true. It is a wonderfully written book that would serve as a good first introduction to discrimination and the events of the holocaust. The language is simple and easy to understand and the repetition of certain phrases would make it an easy read for children. That being said, I’m an adult and enjoyed reading the book as well – so maybe read it with your kids! It is in no way gory, violent or overly descriptive of the atrocities of the concentration camp - parents or teachers would have to further explain the details of the camp, such as the marches, gas chambers, etc. and could choose age appropriate information regarding these touchy subjects. The book only gives Bruno's 9-year old impression of the camps – impressions he makes on his own as no adult in his life explains what the camps are or why they are there or who the people in the striped pajamas are. All Bruno really knows is that he had to move from his life in Berlin far away to a place called Out-With. Although some may think this is odd, it is what likely would have happened in the 1940’s – an era of “do not speak unless spoken to” and when children never questioned their parents. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas shows the innocence of children and how it is adults who create hate and discrimination. I understand why this is a best seller!
Date published: 2009-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not just for pre-teens!!! I'm 42 years old and just finished reading this little jem. I highly recommend it for any age group. Truly.
Date published: 2009-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not Just for Kids - Don't Miss This One I don't know who decided to publish this novel in the Children's Books division because I would say that it is too powerful for all but mature teens and adults. I suppose the fact that the main character is the delightful Bruno, who is nine years old, led someone to believe that nine-year-olds would want to read it. But the humour and the horror of the novel come from the fact that the reader has to know more than Bruno does to understand the implications of his actions. It is difficult to review a novel that says on its back cover, "it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about." Unfortunately for me, one of the blurbs from a newspaper review on the first page of the book revealed more than it probably should have. This novel is a strange mixture of delight and anguish. Bruno is an engaging character whose optimism never deserts him throughout the novel. He is a great judge of character, with one or two exceptions, and the world could be a wonderful place if it were inhabited by Brunos. I can't tell you why, but read this novel. You will be glad that you did. Share this novel with friends. They will be glad that you did. There is currently a film version of the novel that I haven't yet seen. Read the book first before you see it. I am glad that my friend told me to read this book without telling me why.
Date published: 2008-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully written! There is no combination of words that I can think of to describe how much of a connection I felt to the John Boyne's "Boy in the Striped Pajamas." This is a story about a boy named Bruno, the son of a high ranking Nazi solider, who befriends a Jewish boy in Auschwitz. Bruno is such a fantasic character because he is naive enough to not understand certain things, but young enough to get away with asking certain questions. "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" is so wonderfully written and even though I knew it could only end sadly I found as I was reading the last pages I was hoping a praying that Boyne would give me the happy ending I wanted so badly. This is a truly remarkable story and I think that everyone needs to read it.
Date published: 2008-11-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Boy In The Striped Pajamas I liked this book a lot, It only took me a day to read it, it was captivating, I think anybody would love this book.
Date published: 2008-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Done! Books about the Holocaust are never easy to read. Some are downright terrifying and some make the reader nauseous. This book however approaches this period in history from a new and interesting angle and tells a tale of what might have happened, and in doing so opens up these stories to a whole new generation of readers. The book was originally marketed as a children's book, and then remarketed as adult fiction because of the content. The author claims it is just a book, and soon it will be a major motion picture due out in the fall of 2008. This is the story of two boys who lose everything they hold dear, yet the reality of their loss is completely different. Bruno's life is changed when his father is given a new job and they move from their five-story home in Berlin to a new home in the country that is only three stories tall. He has lost his 3 best friends in life, and his home with the banister and the attic window that looks out over all of Berlin. His new bedroom window looks over small huts in a fenced-in area where everyone wears striped pajamas. One day while being rebellious and doing what he should never do, he walks along the fence and meets a boy with whom he shares a birthday. Shmuel and Bruno meet most days and sit on the opposite sides of the fence and talk. As their friendship grows Bruno's youthful innocence is challenged. The novel is told in the third person narrative, but told from a nine-year- old's perspective. Though the reader knows that the story takes place at Auschwitz, Bruno cannot pronounce it, and misunderstood the name from the beginning. Yet in not naming the place the author leaves the story as a much broader tale. This book is extremely well-written; it takes the reader to a place and time we should never forget, and it reminds us of the human element in all stories. John Boyne has written a book that could become required reading for all school children, and maybe all adults should read it also, lest we forget. So pick it up and walk with Bruno and Shmuel as they develop a growing friendship just sitting and talking through a barbed- wire-topped chain link fence. (First Published in Imprint 2008-05-02.)
Date published: 2008-07-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Perspective is the Key to a Profoundly Lived Life So many novels have been written. Not like this one. Bruno is a 9 year old kid who can't understand why his life his changing so dramatically. He is spoiled in the sense that he is so ignorant, regardless of his age and knowledge. The story progesses to fully reveal what Bruno's father does for a living and why. He does not understand the morals or rather the purpose of what his father is doing and is confused: should he support it or not? When he meets the friend of the enemy, he is torn between getting caught and having fun. Like any other boy, he chooses to make a choice whichrefelcts his humanisitic morals as a simple child.
Date published: 2008-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book for young and old alike! Great book! This book would appeal to the young and old alike. Written from the perspective of a nine year old boy, the holocaust is discussed but prejudiced viewpoints and verdicts are not made. This book makes the reader think about judging historical events through the eyes of a different time period. John Boyne does a wonderful job leading the reader through the story, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions and relate to the story through real life experiences.
Date published: 2008-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everyone should read this Teen book. This is a fable about a little boy whose dad works for the Fury and they move to a place with a giant fence called Outwith. Way past the fence, the boy can see another boy in striped pajamas. Often, when you look at a teen or young adult book, you look at the age of the character to help you see what age the book is appropriate for. That rule does not apply in this book. Bruno is only 9, and this is definitely a teen book. Bruno doesn't know about the holocaust or what is really happening in Germany at this time. He only knows his family and what he is living through. So the reader must have some of that understanding themselves. It is an extremely powerful book. It is very short and can be read quickly but it will stay with you for a long time. I still get goosebumps thinking about it a year after I've read it.
Date published: 2008-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superbly Understated This holocaust story is extremely discreet in its descriptions of the horrors of Nazi Germany. Told from the point of view of the nine year old son of the commandant of Auschwitz it never openly explains the holocaust. Instead it has a pervasive sorrow that is evident from almost the first chapter. The children in the story act with a complete lack of understanding of the situation around them. They don't realize why the other children are behind the fence and have little to eat. Or why Father is such an important man to their country. They also don't refer to any specific historical items by name. The Fuhrer becomes the Fury and Auschwitz is called "Out with". This book would be suitable for younger than teen, but they would need an understanding of WWII to see past the brilliant understatement.
Date published: 2007-10-28

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Chapter One Bruno Makes a Discovery One afternoon, when Bruno came home from school, he was surprised to find Maria, the family’s maid — who always kept her head bowed and never looked up from the carpet — standing in his bedroom, pulling all his belongings out of the wardrobe and packing them in four large wooden crates, even the things he’d hidden at the back that belonged to him and were nobody else’s business. ‘What are you doing?’ he asked in as polite a tone as he could muster, for although he wasn’t happy to come home and find someone going through his possessions, his mother had always told him that he was to treat Maria respectfully and not just imitate the way Father spoke to her. ‘You take your hands off my things.’ Maria shook her head and pointed towards the staircase behind him, where Bruno’s mother had just appeared. She was a tall woman with long red hair that she bundled into a sort of net behind her head, and she was twisting her hands together nervously as if there was something she didn’t want to have to say or something she didn’t want to have to believe. ‘Mother,’ said Bruno, marching towards her, ‘what’s going on? Why is Maria going through my things?’ ‘She’s packing them,’ explained Mother. ‘Packing them?’ he asked, running quickly through the events of the previous few days to consider whether he’d been particularly naughty or had used those words out loud that he wasn’ t allowed to use and was being sent away because of it. He couldn’t think of anything though. In fact over the last few days he had behaved in a perfectly decent manner to everyone and couldn’t remember causing any chaos at all. ‘Why?’ he asked then. ‘What have I done?’ Mother had walked into her own bedroom by then but Lars, the butler, was in there, packing her things too. She sighed and threw her hands in the air in frustration before march-ing back to the staircase, followed by Bruno, who wasn’t going to let the matter drop without an explanation. ‘Mother,’ he insisted. ‘What’s going on? Are we moving?’ ‘Come downstairs with me,’ said Mother, leading the way towards the large dining room where the Fury had been to dinner the week before. ‘We’ll talk down there.’ Bruno ran downstairs and even passed her out on the staircase so that he was waiting in the dining room when she arrived. He looked at her without saying anything for a moment and thought to himself that she couldn’ t have applied her make-up correctly that morning because the rims of her eyes were more red than usual, like his own after he’d been causing chaos and got into trouble and ended up crying. ‘Now, you don’t have to worry, Bruno,’ said Mother, sitting down in the chair where the beautiful blonde woman who had come to dinner with the Fury had sat and waved at him when Father closed the doors. ‘In fact if anything it’s going to be a great adventure.’ ‘What is?’ he asked. ‘Am I being sent away?’ ‘No, not just you,’ she said, looking as if she might smile for a moment but thinking better of it. ‘We all are. Your father and I, Gretel and you. All four of us.’ Bruno thought about this and frowned. He wasn’t particularly bothered if Gretel was being sent away because she was a Hopeless Case and caused nothing but trouble for him. But it seemed a little unfair that they all had to go with her. ‘But where?’ he asked. ‘Where are we going exactly? Why can’t we stay here?’ ‘Your father’s job,’ explained Mother. ‘You know how important it is, don’t you?’ ‘Yes, of course,’ said Bruno, nodding his head, because there were always so many visitors to the house — men in fantastic uniforms, women with typewriters that he had to keep his mucky hands off — and they were always very polite to Father and told each other that he was a man to watch and that the Fury had big things in mind for him. ‘Well, sometimes when someone is very important,’ continued Mother, ‘the man who employs him asks him to go somewhere else because there’s a very special job that needs doing there.’ ‘What kind of job?’ asked Bruno, because if he was honest with himself — which he always tried to be — he wasn’t entirely sure what job Father did. In school they had talked about their fathers one day and Karl had said that his father was a greengrocer, which Bruno knew to be true because he ran the greengrocer’s shop in the centre of town. And Daniel had said that his father was a teacher, which Bruno knew to be true because he taught the big boys who it was always wise to steer clear of. And Martin had said that his father was a chef, which Bruno knew to be true because he sometimes collected Martin from school and when he did he always wore a white smock and a tartan apron, as if he’d just stepped out of his kitchen. But when they asked Bruno what his father did he opened his mouth to tell them, then realized that he didn’t know himself. All he could say was that his father was a man to watch and that the Fury had big things in mind for him. Oh, and that he had a fantastic uniform too. ‘It’s a very important job,’ said Mother, hesitating for a moment. ‘A job that needs a very special man to do it. You can understand that, can’t you?’ ‘And we all have to go too?’ asked Bruno. ‘Of course we do,’ said Mother. ‘You wouldn’t want Father to go to his new job on his own and be lonely there, would you?’ ‘I suppose not,’ said Bruno. ‘Father would miss us all terribly if we weren’ t with him,’ she added. ‘Who would he miss the most?’ asked Bruno. ‘Me or Gretel?’ ‘He would miss you both equally,’ said Mother, for she was a great believer in not play-ing favourites, which Bruno respected, especially since he knew that he was her favourite really. ‘But what about our house?’ asked Bruno. ‘Who’s going to take care of it while we’re gone?’ Mother sighed and looked around the room as if she might never see it again. It was a very beautiful house and had five floors in total, if you included the basement, where Cook made all the food and Maria and Lars sat at the table argu-ing with each other and calling each other names that you weren’t supposed to use. And if you added in the little room at the top of the house with the slanted windows where Bruno could see right across Berlin if he stood up on his tiptoes and held on to the frame tightly. ‘We have to close up the house for now,’ said Mother. ‘But we’ll come back to it someday.’ ‘And what about Cook?’ asked Bruno. ‘And Lars? And Maria? Are they not going to live in it?’ ‘They’re coming with us,’ explained Mother. ‘But that’s enough questions for now. Maybe you should go upstairs and help Maria with your packing.’ Bruno stood up from the seat but didn’t go anywhere. There were just a few more questions he needed to put to her before he could allow the matter to be settled. ‘And how far away is it?’ he asked. ‘The new job, I mean. Is it further than a mile away?’ ‘Oh my,’ said Mother with a laugh, although it was a strange kind of laugh because she didn’t look happy and turned away from Bruno as if she didn’t want him to see her face. ‘Yes, Bruno,’ she said. ‘It’s more than a mile away. Quite a lot more than that, in fact.’ Bruno’ s eyes opened wide and his mouth made the shape of an O. He felt his arms stretching out at his sides like they did whenever something surprised him. ‘You don’t mean we’re leaving Berlin?’ he asked, gasping for air as he got the words out. ‘I’m afraid so,’ said Mother, nodding her head sadly. ‘Your father’s job is–’ ‘But what about school?’ said Bruno, inter-rupting her, a thing he knew he was not supposed to do but which he felt he would be forgiven for on this occasion. ‘And what about Karl and Daniel and Martin? How will they know where I am when we want to do things together?’ ‘You’ll have to say goodbye to your friends for the time being,’ said Mother. ‘Although I’m sure you’ll see them again in time. And don’t interrupt your mother when she’s talking, please,’ she added, for although this was strange and unpleasant news, there was certainly no need for Bruno to break the rules of politeness which he had been taught. ‘Say goodbye to them?’ he asked, staring at her in surprise. ‘Say goodbye to them?’ he repeated, spluttering out the words as if his mouth was full of biscuits that he’d munched into tiny pieces but not actually swallowed yet. ‘Say goodbye to Karl and Daniel and Martin?’ he continued, his voice coming dangerously close to shouting, which was not allowed indoors. ‘But they’re my three best friends for life!’ ‘Oh, you’ll make other friends,’ said Mother, waving her hand in the air dismissively, as if the making of a boy’s three best friends for life was an easy thing. ‘But we had plans,’ he protested. ‘Plans?’ asked Mother, raising an eyebrow. ‘What sort of plans?’ ‘Well, that would be telling,’ said Bruno, who could not reveal the exact nature of the plans — which included causing a lot of chaos, especially in a few weeks’ time when school finished for the summer holidays and they didn’t have to spend all their time just making plans but could actually put them into effect instead. ‘I’m sorry, Bruno,’ said Mother, ‘but your plans are just going to have to wait. We don’t have a choice in this.’ ‘But, Mother!’ ‘Bruno, that’s enough,’ she said, snapping at him now and standing up to show him that she was serious when she said that was enough. ‘Honestly, only last week you were complaining about how much things have changed here recently.’ ‘Well, I don’t like the way we have to turn all the lights off at night now,’ he admitted. ‘Everyone has to do that,’ said Mother. ‘It keeps us safe. And who knows, maybe we’ll be in less danger if we move away. Now, I need you to go upstairs and help Maria with your packing. We don’t have as much time to prepare as I would have liked, thanks to some people.’ Bruno nodded and walked away sadly, know-ing that ‘some people’ was a grown-up’s word for ‘Father’ and one that he wasn’t supposed to use himself. He made his way up the stairs slowly, holding on to the banister with one hand, and wondered whether the new house in the new place where the new job was would have as fine a banister to slide down as this one did. For the banister in this house stretched from the very top floor — just outside the little room where, if he stood on his tiptoes and held on to the frame of the window tightly, he could see right across Berlin — to the ground floor, just in front of the two enormous oak doors. And Bruno liked nothing better than to get on board the banister at the top floor and slide his way through the house, making whooshing sounds as he went. Down from the top floor to the next one, where Mother and Father’s room was, and the large bathroom, and where he wasn’t supposed to be in any case. Down to the next floor, where his own room was, and Gretel’s room too, and the smaller bath-room which he was supposed to use more often than he really did. Down to the ground floor, where you fell off the end of the banister and had to land flat on your two feet or it was five points against you and you had to start all over again. The banister was the best thing about this house — that and the fact that Grandfather and Grandmother lived so near by — and when he thought about that it made him wonder whether they were coming to the new job too and he presumed that they were because they could hardly be left behind. No one needed Gretel much because she was a Hopeless Case — it would be a lot easier if she stayed to look after the house — but Grandfather and Grandmother? Well, that was an entirely different matter. Bruno went up the stairs slowly towards his room, but before going inside he looked back down towards the ground floor and saw Mother entering Father’s office, which faced the dining room — and was Out Of Bounds At All Times And No Exceptions — and he heard her speaking loudly to him until Father spoke louder than Mother could and that put a stop to their conversation. Then the door of the office closed and Bruno couldn’t hear any more so he thought it would be a good idea if he went back to his room and took over the packing from Maria, because otherwise she might pull all his belongings out of the wardrobe without any care or consideration, even the things he’d hidden at the back that belonged to him and were nobody else’s business.From the Hardcover edition.

Bookclub Guide

1. Discuss the relationship between Bruno and Gretel. Why does Bruno seem younger than nine? In a traditional fable, characters are usually one-sided. How might Bruno and Gretel be considered one-dimensional?2. At age 12, Gretel is the proper age for membership in the League of Young Girls, a branch of Hitler’s Youth Organization. Why do you think she is not a member, especially since her father is a high-ranking officer in Hitler's army?3. What is it about the house at Out-With that makes Bruno feel “cold and unsafe”? How is this feeling perpetuated as he encounters people like Pavel, Maria, Lt. Kotler, and Shmuel?4. Describe his reaction when he first sees the people in the striped pajamas. What does Gretel mean when she says, “Something about the way [Bruno] was watching made her feel suddenly nervous”? (p. 28) How does this statement foreshadow Bruno’s ultimate demise?5. Bruno asks his father about the people outside their house at Auschwitz. His father answers, “They’re not people at all Bruno.” (p. 53) Discuss the horror of this attitude. How does his father’s statement make Bruno more curious about Out-With?6. Explain what Bruno’s mother means when she says, “We don’t have the luxury of thinking.” (p. 13) Identify scenes from the novel that Bruno’s mother isn’t happy about their life at Out-With. Debate whether she is unhappy being away from Berlin, or whether she is angry about her husband’s position. How does Bruno’s grandmother react to her son’s military role?7. When Bruno and his family board the train for Auschwitz, he notices an over-crowded train headed in the same direction. How does he later make the connection between Shmuel and that train? How are both trains symbolic of each boy’s final journey?8. Bruno issues a protest about leaving Berlin. His father responds, “Do you think that I would have made such a success of my life if I hadn’t learned when to argue and when to keep my mouth shut and follow orders?” (p. 49) What question might Bruno’s father ask at the end of the novel?9. A pun is most often seen as humorous. But, in this novel the narrator uses dark or solemn puns like Out-With and Fury to convey certain meanings. Bruno is simply mispronouncing the real words, but the author is clearly asking the reader to consider a double meaning to these words. Discuss the use of this wordplay as a literary device. What is the narrator trying to convey to the reader? How do these words further communicate the horror of the situation?10. When Bruno dresses in the filthy striped pajamas, he remembers something his grandmother once said. “You wear the right outfit and you feel like the person you’re pretending to be.” (p, 205) How is this true for Bruno? What about his father? What does this statement contribute to the overall meaning of the story?11. Discuss the moral or message of the novel. What new insights and understandings does John Boyne want the reader to gain from reading this story?12. Discuss the differences in a fable, an allegory, and a proverb. How might this story fit into each genre?

Editorial Reviews

"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