Benno and the Night of Broken Glass by Meg Wiviott is a gentle introduction to the beginning of the Holocaust; Kristallnacht. Benno the cat is the neighborhood cat and a friend to all. Hans the Hausmeister leaves Benno fresh milk every night, he finds a sunny spot to nap at Mitzi Stein’s dress shop and he walks to school with Inge and Sophie. He spends Friday nights with the Adler family as they light the Sabbath candles and Sundays after church he visits the Schmidt’s for lunch.
But gradually things change. People are not so friendly. “Men in brown uniforms” built bonfires to burn books. Some people cheer. Benno notices the girls no longer play or walk to school together. The tension builds until “a night like no other.” (Kristallnacht). The Adler’s apartment is destroyed while the Schmidt’s remain untouched. Hans still leaves milk for Benno but life for him has forever changed.
Wiviott’s choice to tell the this story from the point of view of a cat is a unique way to introduce young children to one of history’s darkest times. Josee Bisaillon’s cut paper and mixed media illustrations enhance the text. Wiviott has included a bibliography and afterword with further information about Kristallnacht.
It is often difficult to find books on this topic that is suitable for elementary libraries. Benno and the Night of Broken Glass will help to fill the void.
Title: Benno and the Night of Broken Glass
Author: Meg Wiviott
Illustrator: Josee Bisaillon
Date Published: 2010
Reading Level: K-5
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Source of Book: From the library.
This is a CYBILS NFPB nominee. Nonfiction Monday is hosted by In Need of Chocolate.