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Benno and the Night of Broken Glass (Holocaust) Paperback


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Benno and the Night of Broken Glass (Holocaust) + The Harmonica + Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Grade Level: 1 and up
  • Series: Holocaust
  • Paperback: 28 pages
  • Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822599759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822599753
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.7 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3–5—Through the eyes of an orange and white cat, readers are introduced to the harrowing event known as Kristallnacht. Benno spends his days observing the friendly, predictable rituals in his neighborhood: girls walking together to school, shopkeepers selling their wares, a Jewish family eating Sabbath dinner, a Christian family eating Sunday lunch. Then one night, he sees brown-shirted men breaking down doors, smashing shop windows, and setting fire to books and buildings. Jewish families disappear, and even though the people that remain resume their normal activities, nothing is ever quite the same again. The straightforward text describes events without sentimentality, as if Benno were simply reporting what he sees and hears. "In Apartment 3B, the mob was breaking the Adlers' furniture and throwing books out the window…. The Schmidts' apartment was untouched." But what truly distinguishes this book is the striking multimedia artwork composed of paper, fabric, and drawn images in hues of olive, brown, and red. Interesting angles, textures, and patterns add to the visual effect throughout. The spreads depict a normal city neighborhood from a cat's-eye view, which is eventually upended by dark shadowy figures with big black boots. Thus the message of terror and sadness that marks the beginning of the Holocaust is transmitted in a way that is both meaningful and comprehensible. An afterword provides historical context for the story, although it presupposes knowledge of the term "Holocaust." Use this book with Karen Hesse's The Cats in Krasinski Square (Scholastic, 2004) for further discussion of the topic. For all collections.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

From Booklist

It is not easy to tell young kids the horrifying truth about the Holocaust, but this picture book is a good place to start. Using the fictionalized viewpoint of a cat, Benno, it shows what happened to families in one Berlin community. Benno feels welcome in many homes and stores, and he likes following a Jewish girl, Sophie, and her Christian friend to school everyday. Then everything changes, and the neighborhood is no longer friendly. Benno cowers as terrifying men in brown shirts light bonfires, and then there is a night “like no other,” during which Benno hears screams and shattering glass, and he watches apartments being ravaged and the synagogue burn. The next day, life continues for some, but Benno never sees others again, including Sophie and her family. The unframed, double-page spreads, created with a mix of collage, drawings, and digital montage, show the warm neighborhood transformed as red flames take over, books fly, and soldiers march in black boots with razor-edged soles. A brief afterword and bibliography add more information and historical context. Grades 2-5. --Hazel Rochman --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful illustrations and evocative text.
Mila
It is well written and provides an excellent emotional read for adults who know the truth and an excellent way to introduce or approach the subject with children.
ProudBookWorm
This book is well suited as an introduction to the Holocaust for upper elementary and middle school students.
Sandra

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Benno was a mottled orange and white cat who lived at Number 5 Rosenstrasse. He was curled up in the window for everyone to admire, for you see he belonged to everyone in the neighborhood. Hans the Hausmeister made sure he had a warm, cozy bed to cuddle up in at night and some "fresh milk" to soothe his tummy. If he rounded the corner past the street light he would pass Gerber's Grocery to the end of the block where Mitzi Stein's dress shop was, zig zag this way and that he would find himself at Neue Synagogue. Such was the makeup of his neighborhood, but it was his people that he tended to that he was known for.

On the Sabbath it was time to visit the Adler family in 3A. The candles were lit and young Sophie would sing before she "fed him scraps of chicken." On Sundays it was time to visit the Schmidts across the hall where Inge, Sophie's friend, "sneaked bits of schnitzel to him under the table." When the girls were off to school he would wend his way around the neighborhood to get his ears scratched, his nose rubbed or take at nap at Mitzi's. Everyone loved him, including Professor Goldfarb in 2G. Who didn't even seem to notice when he curled up on top of his papers. Such was the life of a mottled orange and white cat named Benno who lived in Berlin.

Something was wrong when those who once had time for him no longer cared or shooed him away abruptly. There were bright orange and red flames that spread eerie shadows along the brick walls of the neighborhood and lit up the night and books were added to fuel the fire. People were somehow not where they were supposed to be and faces were downcast, sad and frightened.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mila on January 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
Beautiful illustrations and evocative text. Wiviott doesn't shy away from the sadness and destruction of Kristallnacht, but handles them in a gentle and age-appropriate way: through the eyes of an endearing neighborhood cat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dienne TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is a good introduction to the Holocaust for younger children. By using the (fictional) story of Benno the Cat, the book comes at the Holocaust from an oblique angle that allows a bit of protective distance for younger kids who may still be too sensitive to learn about the Holocaust more directly.

Benno the Cat lives in an apartment building where he wanders freely among the apartments. The inhabitants of the apartments are a mixed bunch, including both Germans and Jews, who seem to get along quite well together. The German girl Inge and her Jewish friend Sophie walk to school and play games together. All the residents, and all of the business owners on Rosenstrasse, welcome Benno and care for him, from the grocer's wife Frau Gerber who scratches his ears to Mitzi Stein the dressmaker who lets him sleep in her shop window. Life is very pleasant.

But then things take an unpleasant turn. People shoo him out of their apartments and stores. They no longer have scraps for him or the time to scratch him. The have other concerns and worries. Inge and Sophie don't play together any more. Then one night the sounds of screams and breaking glass fill the air. Shops - at least certain ones - are destroyed and looted by men with brown shirts and heavy black boots. The Neue Synagogue is set on fire. Herr Goldfarb is dragged away in the night, trying to protect his books.

In the morning, Benno waits for life to return to normal. But Sophie's family's apartment is locked. Herr Goldfarb doesn't come back. The butcher is never seen again. But Frau Gerber still scratches his ears and Inge still leaves for school every day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ProudBookWorm on November 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
It would have been hard for me to even imagine this book could be written, but it is brilliant. I just saw it today at a book fair and will definately buy it. I am a Holocaust literature reader and this book is perfect for children and even adults like me. It is well written and provides an excellent emotional read for adults who know the truth and an excellent way to introduce or approach the subject with children. The illustrations are also excellent.
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Format: Paperback
My nine-year-old daughter and I read this book tonight, and I thought it apt since January 27th marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This poignant picture book describes the events leading up to Kristallnacht or Night of the Broken Glass, as witnessed by a street cat named Benno. Benno is well cared for, fed by the Hausmeister of an apartment building and petted and played with by the other people residing in a Berlin neighborhood. The times were changing though as Benno soon realizes. This is well-depicted through illustrations. Initially Benno visits with Jewish families and Gentile families, all of whom seem happy and content. But this is 1938 Nazi Germany, and soon laws are put into place that prevent Jews from having the same quality of life that their Gentile counterparts enjoy.

Benno has always seen two friends, Sophie and Inge, one Jewish and one Gentile, go to school together. But after the Brownshirts arrive (the Nazi stormtroopers), the girls no longer play together and poor Sophie is seen walking home alone, dejectedly while Inge is portrayed playing with her other Gentile friends. Events build up to the fiery Night of the Broken Glass - the synagogue is burned, Jewish books are set upon flames, and Jewish businesses are destroyed by youths egged on by the Nazis. In the aftermath, people have gone missing, and Benno reflects that life just doesn't seem the same.

I think this picture book makes for an excellent and thought-provoking discussion on the events that eventually led to the Holocaust. My nine-year-old who is familiar with aspects of the Holocaust (she has read Anne Frank's biography and several other picture books on the Holocaust) found it to be an illuminating and interesting read, and I would recommend it to readers ages 8-12.
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