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Last Updated: Tuesday February 21 2006 14:30 GMT

Book Review: The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

John Boyne

Publication date

5 January 2006

The story

It's about nine-year-old Bruno who lives in Germany during World War II.

His dad is a soldier and when he gets a new, more important, job, Bruno and his family move to a new home at a place called Out-With.

But when Bruno gets there he's homesick. His new home is smaller, full of soldiers and there is no-one to play with. And he is forbidden to explore.

But his curiosity becomes too much and so he investigates his new home and meets Shmuel, who lives on the other side of the fence.

Although Bruno comes from a Nazi family and Shmuel is Jewish, they become friends and meet at the same spot and talk whenever they can.

As a result Bruno learns more about where he lives, how other people live and the effect of the war.

The characters

Bruno is the main character, his mother and father and 12-year-old sister, Gretel, who he doesn't always get on with.

There's also Shmuel, the maid Maria, Lieutenant Kotler who is the soldier he doesn't like and his grandmother and grandfather.


You really get to know Bruno's character and he makes funny observations and remarks about people (especially his sister who he thinks is a "hopeless case!")

The plot also keeps you guessing a bit and when you finish reading, it will make you think about history and the Holocaust.

Any weak bits?

Bruno is quite a naive character at times.

As this book is about a serious and upsetting subject, you might not want to read it alone.


Yes. Even though it is about an upsetting subject, it'll keep you entertained and you'll want to read on and find out what happens to Bruno and Shmeul.

NR rating:
NR rating: four out of five

Have you read this book?

I have just finished reading this book and it left me in tears at the end - it was terribly sad. I think it's necessary to have books like these to give you a better insight into the Holocaust, though, and I'd recommend this anytime.
Rachael, 15, London

I loved The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, especially all the fantastic characters. I couldn't put it down and at the end, I even cried! Though it's enjoyable, it really makes you think and you realise that the 6 million people who died in the Holocaust are actual people with friends and not just numbers. It is a very moving tale but I wouldn't recommend it for children under 10 as it is about a really upsetting and disturbing topic.
Caroline, 11, Harrow

I thought this book was very moving and it really touched me. I think it is suitable for all ages and depending on how old you will determine how long it takes you to figure out what the situation is.
Sarah, 15, Formby

Last night I read the boy in the striped pyjamas, and I couldn't put it down. The plot is compelling, and all the horrors of the war are shown through the innocent eyes of a 9 year old, who doesn't understand what is going on. It's a tale of friendship, compassion and loss - it's fantastic, I really recommend it.
Lucinda, 13, Rotherham

This book was really gripping, I could not put it down and it is a really good book if you are about 11 or older as younger audiences might not understand the plot and genre of this masterpiece!
Shehzeena, 11, London

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