Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

More Reviews of Books: WWII

Though the video is rather dry, it gives recommendations and plot overviews of not only The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, but it also gives reviews on other YA books if students become interested in the topic of WWII.



The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and  Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl



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A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

In  A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith the reader gets a close look at the life of Francie Nolan.  Covering her life from eleven to sixteen, there is a love for reading that Francie possesses.  In her coming of age story she strives to gain her mother’s approval and enjoys the love from her Father, borrowing traits from both of her parents.  Francie has to overcome the difficulties of her life in Brooklyn, showing what life was like for an immigrant family in America, and also the importance of education.

The book is at times eye-opening and heartbreaking. Francie goes through a lot and has a tough life, but there are moments that are relatable to girls in any culture.  Francie observes all that is around her and is extremely resilient.  It is a truly memorable tale and a great book for young girls to read.

An interesting pairing for A Tree Grows In Brooklyn could be I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.  It would give the students two different versions of a coming-of-age story.  Both girls in the story deal with poverty, and hardship. They value education as a way to make their way in the world and improve their lives.  The cultures that they live in differ in ways, but are similar in others.  Both fathers are dreamers of a sort and do not live fully in the reality of their circumstances.

These girls make it through their adolescence of their own will.  I think the books would complement each other nicely as they represent this poignant phase of girl’s lives.

In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou writes her literary autobiography.  It reads like a novel of a young Maya growing up dealing with prejudice, sexual abuse, and family.  She does not have a stable home and is constantly moving around the country to live with her father, mother, and grandmother.

The book gives a colorful picture of how what life was like for Maya living in segregation.  There is a fear of the white people and a intrigue with the way language differs between the two races.  The adults in Maya’s life show her differing ways to deal with the segregation and racism.  As Maya grows up she finds her own personal identity and shows a great love for writing and reading.  Click here for Maya Angelou’s website.

Abby Greulich

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The Book Thief

This book takes place in Germany during WWII, but this book is unique in the fact that Death is the narrator.  Death tells the story of a young girl Liesel Meminger as she grows up during the war.  Liesel has lost all her family and is taken in by the Hubbermanns.  As Liesel steals books and learns to read from her foster father, she discovers a love for the written word in a culture where book-burnings are taking place.

The Book Thief is rife with symbolism and feeling, allowing the reader to learn about the story of a normal girl of the time.  It is an amazing narrative that I would highly recommend.

Click here for an interview with Markus Zusak.  To go to Markus Zusak website click here, for information on his other book and discussion question to go along with The Book Thief.

Abby Greulich

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

This is the fascinating tale of two young boys living during what is known as the Holocaust. This journey back in time is depicted through the eyes of a young German boy named Bruno and his new found friend Shmuel. However, though the boys become friends they are separated by not only a fence but the racist ideologies of the adults in their lives.  Taken from the perspective of young Bruno who is only nine, this book allows for one to see into the eyes of a child, children who do not understand exactly what is happening to them and why.

Bruno is clever in many ways, such as his language, yet does not pick up on all that is going on around him. However, Shmuel, who does know what is happening to the people “on his side of the fence” does not mention to Bruno all that goes on but simply holds is tongue, sparing his friend from the tragedies he endures from men like Bruno’s father.

In the end there is no mention of any direct understanding of where the boys actually are and what exactly takes place. Boyne has artistically taken the perspective of a child and leaves all the reasonings and history to the adults who are now aware of the happenings during the Holocaust, making them take a step back and look at it from a naive point-of-view and perhaps a better one.

If you would like to read parts of the book online click here, also we encourage you read the authors note at the end for a full explanation of how and why Boyne came up with the idea of writing about these two “young mens” and their stories.

This is a wonderful book for young adults who are interested in reading historical fiction and especially those into reading and learning about WWII. It is a very simple read and quick. Thumbs up!


Also, to read and get in-touch with the author on twitter, click here.

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