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"The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

The Boy in the
   Striped Pyjamas
John Boyne
January 2006
David Fickling Books
224 pages


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       "And then, as Bruno got even closer, he saw
        that the thing was neither a dot nor a speck
        nor a blob nor a figure, but a person..."


        It's 1942 and we're with Bruno, a sad little boy, who lives with his Mother
        and Father and sister Gretel in Berlin. Bruno's father has an important
        job, a job that will take the family away from the city to a strange new
        house in the country. In time, whilst looking for a friend in this
        lonely new place, Bruno defies his father and finds his way to a very
        long fence. And a long, long way down this very long fence he meets
        a dot that becomes a speck that becomes a blob that becomes
        a figure that becomes a person that becomes a boy in striped
        pyjamas called Shmuel. And from that moment, Bruno's fate
        is sealed...

        This book has won prizes. Lots of them. And it's spent a whopping
        45 weeks atop the Irish bestsellers charts (The author is Irish).
        Now a feature film is being made by Heyday Films, for Miramax.
        It's being directed by Mark Herman, and is set for release
        some time in 2008.


       The Gnome says

       John Boyne's Holocaust fable is a crossover title, being both for adults
       as well as older children. Indeed, it's even been repackaged for the
       High Street to latch on to mature readers. But in the same way that
       it has changed its cover for different markets, its story and its construction
       seem to have divided the readership.

       Bruno's world is described in sharp, descriptive strokes. It is a cruel
       world, brutal at times, where discipline and obedience rule. Bruno's
       father is employed by "The Fury" and the new family residence is
       based in a strange place called "Out-with". He does not understand
       why the boy on the other side of the fence wears pyjamas. Nor does
       he comprehend the dangers of his friendship with the boy called

       If you can suspend your disbelief at Bruno's naivetey, if you can believe
       that Bruno really wouldn't have any knowledge of the "Fury" and the
       Fatherland, and even the wider war in Europe - which he most surely
       would have, living in a Commandent's shadow? - then you'll find yourself
       being lead towards a most dreadful, moving climax. Of course, it's
       telegraphed from the outset by the nature of the writing and our own
       knowledge of those historical events. But it's the way in which we
       get there that moves us so.

       Or maybe it doesn't. Maybe it even irks you. You might find the whole
       thing almost twee and insubstantial in its conceit. After all, are we really
       expected to believe that Bruno can walk and talk for hours at a time
       along that fence without any guards ever noticing him? There is a
       detatchment about the writing. The author lets us observe events,
       as if we are at arm's length from the characters, and he creates a
       a specific tone. But what tone is that, exactly. Is it supposed to
       be ironic, perhaps sarcastic, or is it just plain patronising?

       "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" will get you talking and thinking,
       whatever side of the fence you end up on. Little wonder it's been so
       well receieved and appauded and why it's spent so very long atop
       the Irish bestseller lists. And no one can be surprised that a film
       version is now in the pipeline...

       This is a fabulous book for schools, to get a class talking and learning
       about the terrible events in Nazi Germany. It could easily end up on the
       regular curriculum for children entering their secondary education.

       As for the Gnome, he's not ashamed to say he read this fable and
       wept. Bruno's world is unflinchingly cruel. His father is a monster.
       His friendship with Shmuel is his only salvation. When the final
       act of this tragedy plays out, you can't help but be moved. Not
       just for Bruno, not just for Shmuel, but for humanity itself...



       Signed copies were available at the time of publishing, as one
       would expect. But there were, in addition, 1000 signed and numbered
       limited editions, with a revised stripey sleeve. The title is very
       finely printed on these, in a slim font, and each copy has an
       additional band, identifying it as a special edition.

       Needless to say, secondhand values for these are climbing
       all the time...

        "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" signed and numbered edition


      Buy this book

   The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
      UK Hardback edition...

      The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
      The children's paperback edition...


      On the web

      John Boyne
      The author's home on the web...

      Meet The Author
      John Boyne talks about his book...

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