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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Set in Berlin in 1942, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas tells a poignant story of nine-year-old Bruno, typical of his age with a passion for exploring. It is this love of exploration that leads him and his Jewish friend Schmuel to a devastating fate.

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed by the Maria, the family’s maid. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home in Berlin to a new house far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. Bruno struggles to reconcile the knowledge that his father is a very important man for whom “The Fury” has great things in store, with the heartbreak he feels at leaving his three best friends for life, Karl, Daniel and Martin.

A tall fence runs alongside Bruno’s new home at Out-With and stretches as far as the eye can see, cutting him off from the strange people in the distance. But, Bruno who longs to be an explorer discovers the existence of a whole new environment beyond the fence.

In Chapter Ten, Bruno who passes his time exploring, tells us about the dot that became a speck that became a blob that became a figure that became a boy. It is sad, ironic and funny all at once that Bruno is jealous of this new-found friend whom he perceives as having dozens of friends to play with for hours every day while he is stuck on the opposite side of the fence with no one to talk to. This scene is representative of the unbelievable evil synonymous with the holocaust that’s portrayed through the completely innocent observances of a nine-year-old boy in almost every chapter.

The book description from the inside flap reads;
‘The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about.
If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.
Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to cross such a fence.’

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is available in all branches of Clare County Library from the children’s senior fiction, teenage and adult fiction collections. It has just recently been chosen for the Tubridy Show’s book club on RTE Radio 1.

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