Kristallnacht was the opening act for the Nazi’s “Final Solution.” On the night of November 9 – 10, 1938, Nazis rampaged in a nationwide pogrom against Jews and Jewish institutions throughout Germany. Synagogues were burned, Jewish stores looted, and Jews beaten and arrested. Presenting information about this event to young readers is problematic: hatred, violence, and destruction may not be appropriate. Meg Wiviott has created a well-crafted, non-threatening solution — a personable cat named Benno. Benno lives in Berlin, in the Mitte neighborhood surrounding the majestic Neue Synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse where Jewish and non-Jewish families live together. He is a welcome guest wherever he goes but his routine is disrupted with the events of Kristallnacht. When it is over, the lives of his Jewish friends are forever altered and his little community disrupted: “Rosenstrasse was still a busy street, but the people were no longer friendly.” Wiviott provides readers with a sense of that night through Benno’s observations while Bisaillon’s vibrant and dramatic illustrations will captivate readers. An afterword provides historical background and suggestions for further reading. For ages 8 – 11.
Benno and the Night of Broken Glass
Norman H. Finkelstein, the author of eighteen nonfiction books, has won the National Jewish Book Award twice and the Golden Kit Honor Award for nonfiction. He lives in Framingham, Massachusetts.
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