Podcast listening assignment:
This week I went on the search for a podcast that was a little more reflective of the degree I’m pursing. I wanted to locate a talk about a children’s book. What I found was really quite excellent. The author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne, was interviewed by BBC World Book Club on 6 March 2010.
At the beginning of the interview, the author stated that this was his first children’s book and he was very aware of his audience. The book is not full of the violence that the subject matter would allow. Instead, he wrote with the understanding that the reader would have the ability to grasp the horror of certain scenes. He wrote the book from a naïve narrative point of view. Never does the book come right out and say this is a concentration camp and death is everywhere. Instead the book leads the reader to just come to understand that the location is not pleasant.
During the interview with Boyne several audience members asked questions about the book. I like this format. It makes the author feel like a real person. I also like that the audience was mixed between the very young and the young at heart. One audience member made me smile. A young man very bluntly asked the question about the possible reality of the book. How could this young Jew walk away to a secret place to sit and think every day without being caught by a guard and further more how could the director of the concentration camp’s son be able to meet and befriend this boy? The author as well as the audience chuckled over the excellent, but very blunt question. Even I chuckled. I love blunt people because you always know just what they are thinking. The author told the young man that you could approach this story from the point of reality or you could approach it as a just a story and enjoy the artistic value of the book. He hopes people are able to understand that this is not a factual story, but are still able to gain something from the story.
The story is about friendship. It is about how we treat each other. It is about tragedy. It is also about love. It is a book which would work well in a classroom setting. It would really work well as a library book talk in conjunction with a study about WWII. The wise librarian would even present this podcast at one of the book talks and then open the floor to discussion.