The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
By Patricia Tauzer,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Intense, powerful Holocaust book offers unique perspective.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This can help kids connect with the historical events of the Holocaust in a more realistic way. Could also lead to some great discussions about evil and the nature of man.
Clearly, there is evil presented. But readers will be touched by the power of friendship and compassion.
Positive Role Models
Readers will quickly relate to Bruno, who is uprooted from his home and moved somewhere "nasty and cold." His perspective allows readers to feel a strong sense of foreboding, long before they know the extent of the terror surrounding Bruno's world. Readers will be struck by the contrast between Bruno's normalcy and naivety, and the extreme horrors of the time.
Violence & Scariness
Implied violence though none graphically shown. But the book is set in a death camp so emotional violence is a real factor to consider when your kids read the book. The ending involves very upsetting death.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that even though the main character in this book is 9 years old, this book is a better fit for kids in late middle school and up. The book focuses on complex emotional issues of evil and the Holocaust, and raises questions about the nature of man. It could spark a great moral discussion. But kids will probably be very moved if not quite upset by some of the events in the book. Its theme is complex and powerful, and it will provoke emotions and questions that will need discussion and explanation. We recommend that you talk with your kids after they've read the book, or even read the book together.
Where to Read
Based on 16 parent reviews
Powerful and emotional story
Report this review
A quality text for mature kids and early teens
Report this review
What's the Story?
When Bruno is forced to move away from his enormous Berlin home with his family, his life changes forever. Besides moving into a smaller house with no "nooks and crannies" to explore, besides having no one to play with except for his older sister (also known as the "Hopeless Case"), he's surrounded by soldiers that are constantly in and out of his father's downstairs office as well as other grown-ups who always seem angry or unhappy. Bruno misses his friends, his grandparents, and the city itself. And he doesn't understand what's going on around him. He hates everything about "Out-With" and is very lonely until he meets the boy on the other side of the fence.
Is It Any Good?
This powerful book about the Holocaust stands out in part because of the unusual perspective. It's told through the eyes of the 9-year-old son of the commandant at Auschwitz, a boy who has no clue as to what is going on around him. This perspective allows readers to feel a strong sense of foreboding, long before they know the extent of the terror surrounding Bruno's world. Readers will be struck by the contrast between Bruno's normalcy and naivety, and the extreme horrors of the time.
Readers will quickly relate to Bruno, who is uprooted from his home and moved somewhere "nasty and cold" where he has no friends; he is lonely, his sister bugs him, and adults treat him as if he's not there. He wants to study art and read fantasy books rather than history and geography. He wants to get outside and explore. At one point Bruno even covets the life of the boy on the other side of the fence because at least he has other boys with whom he can play.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about World War II and the Holocaust. How is reading a story different than reading about facts in a history book? Which do you find more moving? Which are you more likely to remember?
How would the story be different if it were told from another point of view?
- Author: John Boyne
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: David Fickling Books
- Publication date: September 12, 2006
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 12
- Number of pages: 215
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Read
Our Editors Recommend
Books About Friendship
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate