Feb 26 – Mar. 3 is Freedom to Read week in Canada. John Boyle’s book, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas brings to mind a time in recent history when there was no freedom.
During the second world war, Bruno, a nine year old German boy, son of a commandant, is moved, along with his family, from Berlin to “Out-With” in Poland. He doesn’t like it there. The house they live in isn’t as nice as the one they had in Berlin. He never gets to visit his grandparents anymore. Worst of all, he misses his friends. There’s no one to play with. From his bedroom window he can see many people, but they live behind a big fence and they all wear striped pajamas. One day he decides to go exploring and follows the fence.
Near the end of the fence he finds a boy on the other side of the fence. They begin to talk and discover that their birthdays are the same day. Shmuel and Bruno’s friendship grows over time – both of them struggling to understand the world they are living in. Bruno instinctively knows that he mustn’t tell his family about his new found friend.
The story is haunting, thought provoking and the end will leave you gasping.