Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

Boyne, John.
New York : David Fickling Books, 2006.
ISBN 0385751079

(6 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Booktalk #1

When his father is appointed commandant of “Out-with” by “The Fury,” nine-year-old Bruno moves with his family to this new place.  Lonely, Bruno makes friends with a boy on the other side of the fence but does not understand why his friend is so sad and why everyone on the other side of the fence wears striped pajamas. And why is his friend so thin? And where is his family? Will Bruno ever learn the answers to these puzzling questions? (Lori Loranger, Librarian, Grisham M.S., Round Rock ISD, TX)

Booktalk #2

In the story The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, there is a little boy named Bruno. He is having a very hard time moving from his nice big house in Germany that he loves to explore, to a smaller house in Out-With, Germany, where there is nowhere to explore.  When Bruno first moves into his new house, he looks out of the window in his room and sees all these boys inside a fenced area. He runs into his sister's room to look out her window, and sees a beautiful view of a forest. He then runs back into his room, with his sister following, and they look back out Bruno's window. His sister explains to him that it's a concentration camp.  Later on in the story Bruno meets a boy named Shmuel in the concentration camp (where Bruno's dad is an officer) and meets with him every day to have some fun. Although Bruno knows it's wrong he still goes and waits every.  One day Bruno gets caught by one of the officers. The officer explains to him that there are many consequences. What do you think will happen to Bruno?  To find out, read the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.  (Kendall, W., student)

Booktalk #3

Set in Germany and Poland, as the "final solution" was being set in motion, this is the story of innocence in the midst of profound human degradation. It is told by the young son of the Nazi commander of Auschwitz.  First he has to be on his best behavior because the "Fury" is coming to dinner. Then he comes home from school one day to find the maid packing his clothes. They are moving because his father has been given a special job to do for the "Fury". It is a great honor he says, this is important for your father's career, his mother says. The boy does not want to go, and he doesn't think his mother wants to either, but ... off they go far, far away to this place called "Out With" in the middle of nowhere. Now he is stuck in a house not nearly as nice as their old one, with no friends and no place to go, but wait ... when he looks out one of the windows ... on the other side of a long, long fence, are lots of people, ... and they are all wearing striped pajamas. If he could just get over there, he can see boys to play with, a bakery somewhere and a park to play in. As the story progresses you see the struggles within the family and you meet some of the young guards, and the boy meets another along the fence. He secretly becomes friends with this boy and never really understands what he is in the midst of. He sneaks out food for his friend because he seems hungry, and then one day learns that his friend can't find his father and he offers to come over and help look for him, so the boy brings him some striped pajamas . . .  A powerful and sad allegory about the lies we adults tell ourselves.   (New Hampshire Isinglass nominee, 2010)

Booktalk #4

When nine-year-old Bruno moves with his family from Berlin to a place called “Out With,” he has a hard time leaving his friends and meeting new ones. Upon arriving to “Out With” Bruno wanted to explore his new room and see if he could find something that he liked about living in this new place called home. Looking out his window, he sees far off in the distance a long barbed wire fence. In that enclosed area are people all wearing striped pajamas. The next day Bruno sets out to do what he loves best, exploring. After walking for a long while Bruno arrives at the fence and meets a boy named Shmuel, and to Bruno’s surprise looks very skinny. Through the next few months the boys become friends and Bruno brings him food at the fence everyday. One day Shmuel tells Bruno that he hasn't seen his father in a long time and asks Bruno if he can go exploring with him. The next day he gives him striped pajamas and goes under the fence with Shmuel.

“If it wasn't for the fact that Bruno was nowhere near as skinny as the boys on his side of the fence, and not quite so pale either, it would have been difficult to tell them apart. It was almost (Shmuel thought) as if they were all exactly the same.”

Find out what happens to Bruno and Shmuel in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.
(Julie Wulff,, college student)

Booktalk #5

Nine year-old Bruno arrives home one afternoon to find his house in an uproar because his father has been reassigned.  Bruno is very upset at the idea of leaving his friends and argues that this isn’t the right choice.  To no avail, Bruno, his sister Gretel, mother and father move to a new house- outside of Berlin in the country.  Gretel explains to Bruno that the name of the House is “Out-with”.  Bruno looks out his new window and sees many people all wearing gray caps and striped clothes.  He doesn’t know why the Fury sent his father here to work, and isn’t old enough to realize who those people are and what they are doing there.  This is a very simplistic story told from the point of view of a nine-year old, it brings the story of the Holocaust into a different perspective as Bruno befriends Schmuel- an occupant of the fenced in camp- and struggles to understand what is happening.  The Fury’s plan - Bruno’s word for Furor- eludes Bruno, and all you can tell for sure is that while Bruno doesn’t understand what Out-with’s (Auschwitz) true purpose is for, he begins to realize the danger and darkness of the place.  The ending is heartbreaking and leaves the reader to think about the truth of the ignorance of not just Bruno, but of the people surrounding these camps.  (Tobye Ertelt for Colorado Blue Spruce Award, 2013)

Booktalk #6

In this book, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, 9 year old Bruno moves to Berlin with his family, He spots a ‘Farm’ outside his window. He finds it weird that the farmers all wear striped pajamas. One day, when Bruno was swinging on his tree swing, he found that a gate was open. He wanted to explore, so he did that. He went through a forest, reaching the ‘farm’ fence. He finds a little boy, the age of 9, named Shmuel. Bruno comes back to the fence every day to associate with his friend Shmuel. He brings him food, and plays games with him everyday. When shmuel loses track of his father at the camp, Bruno feels almost as if it is time to help Shmuel, so he does that. Bruno agrees to help Shmuel, but what happens when they happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and go for a ‘March’…? Find out by reading this powerful historical and post modern book, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. (Kenzie Yorke,, k-12 student

SUBJECTS:     Auschwitz (Concentration camp) -- Fiction.
                        Concentration camps -- Poland -- Fiction.
                        Friendship -- Fiction.
                        Nazis -- Fiction.
                        Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Fiction.
                        World War, 1939-1945 -- Jews -- Fiction.

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