Brain Candy Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Original Essays | September 23, 2015

    Bryan Doerries: IMG Using Greek Tragedies to Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable

    In ancient Athens, during the fifth century BC, military service was required of all citizens. To be a citizen meant being a soldier, and vice... Continue »
    1. $18.87 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

Qualifying orders ship free.
List price: $9.99
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
9 Hawthorne Children's Young Adult- General

Boy in the Striped Pajamas


Boy in the Striped Pajamas Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. Discuss the relationship between Bruno and Gretel. Why does Bruno seem younger than nine? In a traditional fable, characters are usually one-sided. How might Bruno and Gretel be considered one-dimensional?

2. At age 12, Gretel is the proper age for membership in the League of Young Girls, a branch of Hitlers Youth Organization. Why do you think she is not a member, especially since her father is a high-ranking officer in Hitler's army?

3. What is it about the house at Out-With that makes Bruno feel “cold and unsafe”? How is this feeling perpetuated as he encounters people like Pavel, Maria, Lt. Kotler, and Shmuel?

4. Describe his reaction when he first sees the people in the striped pajamas. What does Gretel mean when she says, “Something about the way [Bruno] was watching made her feel suddenly nervous”? (p. 28) How does this statement foreshadow Brunos ultimate demise?

5. Bruno asks his father about the people outside their house at Auschwitz. His father answers, “Theyre not people at all Bruno.” (p. 53) Discuss the horror of this attitude. How does his fathers statement make Bruno more curious about Out-With?

6. Explain what Brunos mother means when she says, “We dont have the luxury of thinking.” (p. 13) Identify scenes from the novel that Brunos mother isnt happy about their life at Out-With. Debate whether she is unhappy being away from Berlin, or whether she is angry about her husbands position. How does Brunos grandmother react to her sons military role?

7. When Bruno and his family board the train for Auschwitz, he notices an over-crowded train headed in the same direction. How does he later make the connection between Shmuel and that train? How are both trains symbolic of each boys final journey?

8. Bruno issues a protest about leaving Berlin. His father responds, “Do you think that I would have made such a success of my life if I hadnt learned when to argue and when to keep my mouth shut and follow orders?” (p. 49) What question might Brunos father ask at the end of the novel?

9. A pun is most often seen as humorous. But, in this novel the narrator uses dark or solemn puns like Out-With and Fury to convey certain meanings. Bruno is simply mispronouncing the real words, but the author is clearly asking the reader to consider a double meaning to these words. Discuss the use of this wordplay as a literary device. What is the narrator trying to convey to the reader? How do these words further communicate the horror of the situation?

10. When Bruno dresses in the filthy striped pajamas, he remembers something his grandmother once said. “You wear the right outfit and you feel like the person youre pretending to be.” (p, 205) How is this true for Bruno? What about his father? What does this statement contribute to the overall meaning of the story?

11. Discuss the moral or message of the novel. What new insights and understandings does John Boyne want the reader to gain from reading this story?

12. Discuss the differences in a fable, an allegory, and a proverb. How might this story fit into each genre?

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 7 comments:

writermala, September 18, 2015 (view all comments by writermala)
A powerful book indeed. When little nine year old Bruno gives up his comfortable life in Berlin for one he does not approve of he is sad. Things change when he meets "Shmuel on the "other side." Bruno and Shmuel strike up an impossible friendship which leads to tragedy. The author has done a very good job of talking about the holocaust from a child's innocent perspective and has handled a sensitive subject very subtly.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Sheila Deeth, October 7, 2014 (view all comments by Sheila Deeth)
A childrens story with the power to captivate all ages, John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas offers a vivid portrayal of innocence in a time of guilt, and a haunting depiction of man’s cruelty to man.

Nine year old Bruno has no idea why his family has been uprooted from its comfortable Berlin home. With the innocent self-absorption of childhood, he mourns the loss of friends and comfort without seeing the truth behind the wire. Strangers in striped pajamas must surely play with their friends, he supposes, while he stands rigidly governed and alone. But truth is stranger than Bruno sees.

The convincingly childlike narration presents historical reality with that same protective layer of separation offered by the curious narrator of Zusak's The Book Thief. Older readers are quickly drawn into guessing and knowing what's to come, while younger readers will follow a fascinating tale of mystery and friendship.

Beautifully told, hauntingly honest, and scarily true, this is a novel for children to grow by and adults to remember, long after the last page is turned or the movie viewed. "Nothing like that could ever happen again," or so we wish. If we learn our lessons well, and read books like this with our children, we just might become aware enough to make that statement true.

Disclosure: My sister in law knew I would love this book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Llama , January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Llama )
A story that honestly made me cry. I finished it two days ago and it left me a complete mess of gross sobbing. I reccomend this to anyone who is into super emotional historical stories. It was AMAZING...
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 7 comments

Product Details

Boyne, John
Historical - Holocaust
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - History
Social Issues - Friendship
Children s-Historical Fiction-Holocaust
holocaust;fiction;historical fiction;wwii;auschwitz;friendship;germany;concentration camps;ya;young adult;nazis;war;jews;poland;children;childhood;history;historical;nazi german
y;berlin;nazi;novel;family;sad;children s;fable;hitler;children s literature;teen;innocence;children s fiction;boys;young adult fiction;irish;john boyne;teen fiction;drama;movie;death;tragedy;english;kids;genocide;literature;wo ii;nazism;fables;1940s;brun
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 7
8.03x5.31x.53 in. .39 lbs.
Age Level:

Other books you might like

  1. Before I Go Used Hardcover $5.95
  2. Friedrich Used Mass Market $0.50
  3. I Am a Star: Child of the Holocaust Used Trade Paper $2.50
  4. The Book Thief
    Used Trade Paper $6.50
  5. Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time... Used Trade Paper $6.50
  6. Number the Stars (Yearling Newbery)
    Used Trade Paper $4.50

Related Subjects

Children's » Featured Titles
Children's » Historical Fiction » Holocaust
Children's » Middle Readers » General
Children's » Sale Books
Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Friendship
Young Adult » General

Boy in the Striped Pajamas Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.50 In Stock
Product details 240 pages David Fickling Books - English 9780385751537 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , US
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at