Friday, July 26, 2013

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

I don't read a lot of YA literature, but this book was recommended from a friend who had just read my Auschwitz post a few days ago. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is also a concentration camp story told from a different perspective, that of the son of the Commandant of Auschwitz. Bruno is a very naive and immature nine year old boy. He is angry about all the changes happening in his life and family, one of which is a move to a place he thinks is ugly and lonely. In his lone wanderings, he comes upon another lonely young boy who is trapped on the other side of a fence. These two boys (one German one Jew) strike up an unlikely friendship..... and thus the story proceeds.

I can see this as a good introduction to children regarding the atrocities of Nazi concentration camps, it is extremely surface level and always dancing around the terrible truths, which would be perfect for mid to late elementary age students. However this book is marketed to "grade 9 and above" and I just can't buy that. The writing style is as simple and immature as the coverage of the subject matter. The childishness of Bruno is almost beyond belief for his age. He has no idea what his father does or what is happening on the other side of the fence. He can't ever pronounce Auschwitz or Fuhrer correctly, calling them "out-with" and "fury" despite constantly being corrected by family (although neither term is ever stated/written in the text), but at the same time he's aware enough to keep his new friendship a secret.

I don't want to totally dismiss this book because I do think it would be great for the right audience, I just think they overshot their target. If you have a 4th-6th grade kid, this is a good read that would get them thinking and questioning. 

No comments:

Post a Comment