Wednesday, May 03, 2006

'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' (John Boyne)

The inside sleeve of John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas reads thus: “Usually we give some clues about the book on the jacket, 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.”

Ever seen such a blurb? Intrigued, I couldn’t help but grab the little book. And as soon as I started to read it, it knocked my literary socks off. I can’t tell you what it’s about, though, because that would ruin everything.

So let me say this: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has been short-listed for the Ottakar's Children's Book Prize. It is deserving of this and other accolades, for it is superb, but it isn’t a children’s book.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a fable, along the lines of Antoine de St Exupery's life-changing The Little Prince – and just as good. Try not to go another day without reading it.


afficionado said...

I agree that it is a very special little book cos of the unique perspective it gives. When I read it I wanted to push it onto others but have met with resistance because they see it as 'contrived' or it's too childish etc. I was beginning to think I was losing my book-quality geiger counter.

teachingpsyche said...

Yes, you are absolutely right...and it is a children's book, absolutely a children's book. There is a lot of talk now about books that cross the adult-child market. Many don't, in my book, because they are so contrived. But this one truly does.
It reads rather like a Boy's Own story, because Bruno structures its narrative, yet debunks that whole genre of heroic nonsense. It deserves a Book Prize!