The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

75%

37 Critic Reviews

This was a powerful story and a brilliant book. It is completely told through the eyes of a young boy and I think the author has done this brilliantly.
-Guardian

Synopsis

'Some things are just sitting there, minding their own business, waiting to be discovered. Like America. And other things are probably better off left alone'

Nine-year-old Bruno has a lot of things on his mind. Who is the 'Fury'? Why did he make them leave their nice home in Berlin to go to 'Out-With' ? And who are all the sad people in striped pyjamas on the other side of the fence? The grown-ups won't explain so Bruno decides there is only one thing for it - he will have to explore this place alone. What he discovers is a new friend. A boy with the very same birthday. A boy in striped pyjamas. But why can't they ever play together?

BACKSTORY: Read an interview with the author JOHN BOYNE and learn all about the Second World War in Germany.
 

About John Boyne

See more books from this Author
JOHN BOYNE was born in Ireland in 1971 and is the author of six novels for adults. His first novel for children, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, won two Irish Book Awards, was shortlisted for the British Book Award, and has been made into a film. His novels are published in over 30 languages. He lives in Dublin. OLIVER JEFFERS is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator. His first picture book, How to Catch a Star (HarperCollins) was published in 2004 and since then he has created a further five picture books to much critical acclaim. He has won the Irish Book Award (where he first met John Boyne), the Blue Peter Book of the Year and the Nestlé Children's Book Prize as well as a host of shortlistings including the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal. His books have been translated into 19 languages.

























Author Residence: Dublin OLIVER JEFFERS is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator. His first picture book, How to Catch a Star (HarperCollins) was published in 2004 and since then he has created a further five picture books to much critical acclaim. He has won the Irish Book Award (where he first met John Boyne), the Blue Peter Book of the Year and the Nestlé Children's Book Prize as well as a host of shortlistings including the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal. His books have been translated into 19 languages. To learn more about him and his work, please visit OliverJeffers.com.
 
Published December 18, 2008 by David Fickling Books. 226 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, Education & Reference, War, Travel, Action & Adventure. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
All: 37 | Positive: 32 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Above average
on May 20 2010

The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form...succeeds in Boyle’s narrative...Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by BookieCookie on Sep 04 2014

This was a powerful story and a brilliant book. It is completely told through the eyes of a young boy and I think the author has done this brilliantly.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Pheebz on Aug 30 2014

This is a book which is fascinating in so many ways, especially if you're interested in the Second World War. Although the book was very sad, it really made me think and inspired me to find other books to read about the war.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by googleyeyes on Feb 21 2014

For months I had avoided this book at all costs. From what I'd heard what my friends said about it, I thought it might be a bit too brutal for my liking. But all the same, I wanted to read it to find out for myself. So I did...I need to warn you that this book isn't a happy one. It had me in tears at the end, so be prepared!

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Kathryn Hughes on Jan 21 2006

The great strength of Bruno's narrative is the way it is mired in the parochial preoccupations of a nine-year-old...The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a small wonder of a book. Bruno's education is conducted slowly, through a series of fleeting social encounters rather than by plunging him into a nightmare landscape.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Cindi Rose on Aug 28 2011

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, is one that should be required reading for everyone of high school age and older. It provides a child-like look at what happened during Hitler's terrifying reign of Germany...This story is almost fairy tale-like in the way the text flows from one event to the next.

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Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Alexis Burling on Oct 23 2007

John Boyne is a masterful storyteller who, through the eyes of Bruno, has attempted to tackle and put forth his version of one of the most heinous periods in human history. It remains to be seen where readers' opinions about the novel will fall, but this nonetheless is a worthwhile and profound journey that most should take to find out.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Nicholas Tucker on Jan 13 2006

This novel is a fine addition to a once taboo area of history...It provides an account of a dreadful episode short on actual horror but packed with overtones that remain in the imagination. Plainly and sometimes archly written, it stays just ahead of its readers before delivering its killer punch in the final pages.

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The Bookbag

Excellent
Reviewed by John Lloyd on Nov 07 2014

I remain in awe of how Boyne writes so convincingly about young male boys – the narrative character of the former, and the equally brilliantly invented Bruno here...I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. I urge everyone to get it for their ten-and-older children, and read it for themselves...

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BookPage

Above average
Reviewed by James Neal Webb on Oct 01 2006

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is an unusual story, one of the most difficult and disturbing a teen will ever read. It is the story of an event seared into the fabric of history...it is up to the individual reader to judge whether Boyne's unique approach to the Holocaust adds to the understanding of this troubling time in human history.

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Teen Reads

Good
Reviewed by Alexis Burling on Oct 23 2007

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS is a bundle of fascinating conjectures, questions and contradictions...John Boyne is a masterful storyteller who, through the eyes of Bruno, has attempted to tackle and put forth his version of one of the most heinous periods in human history.

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Historical Novel Society

Above average
Reviewed by Marilyn Sherlock on May 01 2007

One day Bruno wanders away from home and meets a boy who always wears blue striped pyjamas, and they become firm friends. What follows is simply but powerfully told. John Boyne’s style of subtle understatements is enough to describe the horrors of war without having to resort to any descriptions of actual violence.

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Book Buzz

Excellent
Reviewed by Sarah Chain on Jul 26 2011

Although the book is written in third person, Boyne writes from the perspective of Bruno, and so the book focuses on how a 9-year-old understands the world around him...And it is through this set-up...that Boyne creates a cleverly devastating book. I can’t recommend this book enough — once it pulled me in, I raced through the chapters...

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The Age

Above average
Reviewed by Ed Wright on Jan 03 2006

For me, as an adult reader, however, the fact that this fable is set in living history - the Holocaust - did, at times, jar...Be prepared, however. In its allusiveness, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas will provoke questions about the abhorrent conditions in which it is set and you may well find yourself needing to explain the Holocaust.

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Literary Review

Below average
Reviewed by David Cesarani on Aug 11 2015

Boyne contrives a situation in which Bruno feels impelled to go under the wire already looking a bit like an inmate, but this beggars belief. Indeed, the book amounts to a distortion of history...The book is full of Germans who know nothing and, if they do, heartily disapprove. This is not fable; it is fiction in the worst sense of the word.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by writer65 on Aug 08 2015

This book was very dramatic and I felt that it showed a perfect depiction of the holocaust. It was clear that John Boyne had done research before he began working on this book and it shows trough his success...the detail and atmosphere of the book made it very enjoyable.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by Jessica M on Aug 08 2015

A good strategies the author uses is his writing style keeps the reader in suspense during the whole book. Fans that are interested in Historical Fiction and Holocaust stories will enjoy this novel. This book is similar to The Devil’s Arithmetic because both characters are in the Holocaust.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Samantha V. on Aug 08 2015

This epic book will touch your heart. I couldn't put the book down! This is a classic tale about a nine-year-old-boy who is friends with a boy from another world...The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is an unforgettable classic, a must read book.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by dahlingg on Aug 08 2015

Targeting neither children nor adults, author John Boyne has presented readers with a unique story of the Holocaust, told from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy named Bruno...It was the narrator's voice of ignorance that drew me into this simply written, beautiful story, with an ending that both surprised and saddened me.

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EzineArticles

Good
Reviewed by Daniel Breedlove on Feb 14 2010

John Boyne's book is not very long, at only 215 pages, and is easy to read. Boyne's writing style can be described as simple and concise...The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a dramatic book that combines real history with fiction. The story of Bruno and his family is combined very well with the story of the Auschwitz Death Camp...

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Book Journey

Good
Reviewed by Sheila on Apr 24 2011

I give John Boyne so much credit for writing this. It is a hard story. It is a maddening story...What this book shows is a friendship that no fences can separate. It is a heartbreaking innocent story that could not have been told as well if the main character had been an adult.

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The Literary Omnivore

Good
Reviewed by The Literary Omnivore on Mar 18 2011

While I’m listing it under children’s fiction when it comes the audience, it’s appropriate for all ages—albeit for someone who can understand the subtle irony of the story...The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a fable-like and darkly ironic treatise on ignorance, innocence, and complacency in the face of true horror.

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Book Chatter

Good
Reviewed by Ti on Mar 10 2010

...what I will say is that what started off as innocent enough, ended with such a punch to my gut that it actually left me speechless. I spent several moments sitting in the same position, letting the ending sink in. I could not move...this is an important book and should be read by as many people as possible.

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Vulpus Libris

Excellent
Reviewed by Nikki on Dec 14 2010

...Boyne cleverly constructs the book so that a child reader is not put off by the strange words that even Bruno struggles with...I cannot praise Boyne’s writing enough...This is a book that I would highly recommend to adults. It’s a gripping depiction of the extremes of politics through innocent eyes.

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Book Addiction

Good
Reviewed by Heather on Apr 11 2009

So, like I said above, the book was fantastic. It was less heavy than I expected – the prose is simple, the story moves along smoothly and isn’t nearly as depressing as I expected. It was easy for me to get lost in the book and read it in one sitting.

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https://www.commonsensemedia.org

Excellent
Reviewed by Patricia Tauzer on Jul 27 2015

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...Readers will be struck by the contrast between Bruno's normalcy and naivety, and the extreme horrors of the time.

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Reading on a Rainy Day

Above average
Reviewed by Athira on Jun 07 2011

Bruno is a nine-year old child. Except, he doesn't act it. He was too innocent for his age...I didn't feel that the author did a great job with his character. It appeared to me that Bruno was just a tool to move the story along...I would be lying though if I didn't say that I was moved by this book.

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Booking in Heels

Above average
Reviewed by Hanna W on Aug 26 2011

This is the second time I read it, and I took from it that during the war, even good people like Bruno's father were persuaded to do things that would previously have been seen as wrong...I love this book. You have to be willing to just go with it and accept certain things, but it really is a moving book.

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Helen's Book Blog

Good
Reviewed by Helen on May 29 2010

This is a quick and interesting read even though the story line is improbable (2 boys meeting at a fence), it is worthwhile, important, and made me think about the Holocaust from a new perspective.

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The Novel World

Above average
Reviewed by TheNovelWorld on Mar 27 2012

Although this book is a good introduction to the Holocaust, there is a slight disconnect between its target audience and its narrator. Older teens who know about the Holocaust might not appreciate Bruno’s childlike demeanor, and the younger kids who can relate to Bruno don’t have the background knowledge to appreciate the book’s potential.

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The Wertzone

Below average
Reviewed by Adam Whitehead on Mar 09 2010

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is an un-researched, wholly unbelievable and rather insulting novel...a contrived narrative that makes an attempt to deliberately tug at the heartstrings by employing a real-life horror to make up for the writer's lack of ability. Definitely one to be avoided.

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http://www.booklore.co.uk

Good
Reviewed by Molly Martin on Nov 30 2011

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is the chronicle of Bruno and Shmuel who become best friends in spite of the reality of their very different lives...Viewing the Holocaust through Bruno's childish, innocent eyes moves the reader along on a riveting expedition.

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Kids Book Review

Good
Reviewed by Tania McCartney on Apr 07 2010

A fictional story set during the Holocaust, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is both heart-warming and heartbreaking. Boyne sheds light on the faults of an adult world from the perspective of a young boy...this book will raise some thought-provoking questions to all its readers and inspire further investigation into this important time in history.

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http://www.inismagazine.ie

Above average
Reviewed by Mags Walsh on Aug 11 2015

The pace of the plot works and the interests of a 9-year-old boy are accurately drawn. The most unbelievable element unfortunately remains Bruno...This is a book which sensitively deals with the Holocaust and is bound to provoke questions in young readers.

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So Misguided

Above average
Reviewed by Monique on Apr 15 2009

John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of those books that is both charming and profound...The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a haunting little tale about fences that should always be crossed and ones that should never be encountered.

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YA Book Shelf

Above average
Reviewed by Melissa Montovani on Apr 28 2010

While the main character is only nine, don’t think that this is a middle grade novel – the emotional gravity of the situation makes it ideal for a YA audience. Although this is an emotionally difficult read at some points...I found myself unable to put this novel down once I’d begun reading...but I did have some trouble digesting the ending.

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Out of the Blue

Good
Reviewed by Alessandra on Feb 07 2009

Reading The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was a very strange experience. I've read many books about the same topic in the past, but I don't think I've ever come across anything similar before. I think it's very well written and engaging, and I'd definitely recommend it.

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Reader Rating for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
87%

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Katrina Bernardo 18 Mar 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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