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Benno and the Night of Broken Glass

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  167 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A neighborhood cat observes the changes in German and Jewish families in its town during the period leading up to Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass that becomes the true beginning of the Holocaust. This cats-eye view introduces the Holocaust to children in a gentle way that can open discussion of this period.
Hardcover, 26 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Kar-Ben Publishing
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Community Reviews

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Although some things aren't pleasant, they cannot be forgotten. I wouldn't read this book to younger children or children who are prone to worrying. However, by around 7 or 8 this book could be an excellent talking piece. It was tastefully done.
Benno is a cat who doesn't belong to one person. He belongs to a town; to Hans, the Adler family in 3B, the Schmidts in 3A, Moshe the butcher, Frau Gerber, Mitzi Stein, and Professor Goldfarb. He spends his days visiting each person, following the daughters in the Adler & Schmidt family to school, playing nearby & getting scraps from the butcher and ear rubs from the grocer's wife. When Benno hears glass shattering, smells smoke that burns his eyes & hears terrified screams, he knows ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Of course the "Night of Broken Glass" refers to Kristallnacht, an event that many feel marked the beginning of the Holocaust. The entire story is told from the point of view of a cat named Benno, who lives happily on Rosenstrasse in Berlin, making the rounds from shop to shop and apartment to apartment, visiting both Jewish and non-Jewish families, all of whom love him. Then come changes, and a scary night after which half of his friends are gone and nothing is the same. I wonder how much a chil ...more
good way to start conversation with young children about what happened to Jews during WWII. the cat that belonged to no one and notices what happens to the neighborhood.
It has always seemed that cats are the ultimate people watcher. Benno is a cat that belongs to everyone and no one. He is the community cat in a half Jewish neighborhood just before the start of the Holocaust. Benno goes from living a life of love, affection, free milk and ear scratches, to a life without many of his friends. Benno recalls the terror he and the people he loves felt during the night of broken glass - Kristallnacht. Benno sees people being taken away, glass windows being broken, s ...more
Mrs. Porter
An account of Kristallnacht written for young readers.
Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the Holocaust for many and for Benno; the life around him has been shattered. Told from the perspective of a neighborhood cat, this novel shows the transformation from his quiet, peaceful streets to violent, chaotic scenes as Benno tries to understand his world around him. As Benno’s world changes instantly, the illustrations with their bright, sharp colors show the disarray around him, relaying the turmoil that the individuals are up against. Being an innoc ...more
Maya Williams
Benno and the Night of Broken Glass is a great story that provide insight of the world the Jewish community lived in. This historical fiction story allows you see the Jewish perspective on the Holocaust. This story is very interesting to children and it using appropriate language can understand well. It also has speech that represents their character's religion in the book. It would be a great read aloud during a history lesson. The illustrations keep children engaged and the cat is interesting ...more
Edward Sullivan
Kritallnacht from a cat's perspective. Well done and excellent way of introducing a heavy topic to younger readers. Great illustrations.

Not sure how I feel about telling the story of Kristallnacht from the perspective of a neighborhood cat.
Reading Level: Intermediate
Genre: Picture Book, Historical Fiction
Review: I loved the artwork in this book, which depicts a cat in Berlin who witnesses Kristallnacht. The concept of the book is unique, and allows the readers to get close to the human characters through the eyes of a feline. I gave this book a higher reading level, due to the fact that it would be difficult for a child to follow the plot without additional background information. Also, many pages of text do not have mirrored illu
Lissa Davies
For many, Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the Holocaust. Meg Wiviott and Josee Bisaillon have chosen to tell the story of the events of that night through the eyes of a neighbourhood cat, Benno. The book follows Benno as he completes the comforting rituals of his daily life in a Berlin neighborhood; visiting homes and stores for snacks and ear scratches, following Inge and her Jewish friend, Sophie, to school and to the park, and finally falling asleep in his cat bed by the furnace in an a ...more
Anna Daga
Benno is a sociable cat residing in Berlin. He takes us on the journey in his friendly neighborhood where he is welcomed by the neighbors of different walks of life, religions and traditions. He gladly visits their homes and accompanies them in their daily routines. At Moshe’s Kosher Butcher shop, Benno is being fed while his ears are lovingly scratched by the grocer’s wife Frau Gerber. Things begin to change one night when Nazis fill the air with screams, smoke and shattering glass. Benno watch ...more
Told through the perspective of a neighborhood cat Benno and the Night of Broken Glass describes how life in Berlin was presiding Nazi occupation, the horrors of Kristallnacht, and life afterward. This event marked the beginning of the Holocaust and how it forever changed life in Europe and around the world. Written in as gentle as possible of way to allow discussion about this terrifying time in history with young readers and listeners.
Benno the cat lives in Berlin and is adored by the Jewish and Gentile families living side by side in his neighborhood. He starts to notice tensions growing—there are not enough scraps to share with him anymore, Jewish Sophie and Christian Inge no longer walk to school together, big black boots thud down the street—until they erupt in a night of destruction and sadness. This is a gentle introduction to the Holocaust; the book will have children asking lots of why questions.
Jamie Tedesco
This was a deep story that dive into details of things that happened leading up to the holocaust. It's dark and although I enjoyed, I'm not sure how many children would enjoy it. If working on teaching about the holocaust or about tragic events that have happened this would be a good story to read.
Sandy Brehl
The neighborhood and families immediately surrounding the events of Crystal night are viewed through the eyes of a cat during the days before and after the event.

Includes actual street names, typical family names, some German terms and expressions

The nazi Kristallnacht, viewed through the eyes of a neighborhood cat. This gives an entirely impartial point of view, and all that comes through is the utter brutality of the event.
Reenie Peppers
Themes: Kristallnacht, 1938 Germany, beginning of the Holocaust
Activities: discussion/ research topics - Kristallnacht, the Brownshirts, Jewish traditions; writing prompt on own family traditions
Benno is a cat who is welcomed everywhere on his street in Berlin. His is a unique viewpoint to witness Kristallnacht, the beginning of the Holocaust. Bennos perspcetive provides a simple introduction to the Holocaust for young readers. The author's note at the end adds additional historical fact to the fictitious tale. End matter includes a bibliography of soruces and additional children's books about the Holocaust.

The story lacks the emotional pull of many other books, even picture books, on
This is a pretty heavy book, so don't be fooled into thinking it's just a light story about a cat. Benno lives in pre-Holocaust Germany and this is the story of the night the Holocaust started, called Kristalinacht or Night of the Broken Glass. It is understandably a depressing, unhappy story because it's about a terrible historical event. I'm not sure what age group to read this to, but be ready for a discussion on the Holocaust if you read this because it's going to happen and it's going to be ...more
Yossi Gremillion
It's not an easy task to introduce the Kristallnacht and the Holocaust to the little ones. This story is perfect to introduce such sensitive graphic subject matter to children ages 9 and up.
Shannon Janik
Unlike most children’s books, “Benno and the Night of Broken Glass” did not have a happy ending. This story about a cat that is beloved in Berlin in this apartment building suddenly becomes unimportant and unnoticed by everyone. The night of broken glass brings about the separation of the Jewish population in Germany. This cat that was friends with both Jewish people and non-Jewish people, witnesses the growing separation between the two groups. While this book does not have the happiest of all ...more
it was sad. But I do like history
The Holocaust is a difficult subject to explain to children,and this book does a great job by describing the Night of Broken Glass through the experiences of neighborhood cat Benno. Supported with collage illustrations that are bold, yet not too graphic, Benno and the Night of Broken Glass is a wonderful story to introduce themes of the Holocaust. It also includes additional resources and more information in the afterword.
As told through the eyes of Benno, the neighborhood cat, Kristallnacht is seen as a frightening, confusing time when Nazi soldiers destroy the livelihood and living quarters of the Jewish people in the once-quiet area. Recognized as the onset of the Holocaust, this night portrays terror at every turn. Benno and the Night of the Broken Glass could be a child's first glimpse of the horrors of the Holocaust.
One of five books my middle schoolers will read in literature circles to introduce both their roles in lit circles as well as the topic of the Holocaust on a basic level. Story is told from a cat's point of view as he notices the changes occurring in his neighborhood before the night of broken glass. Good details to begin discussions of what students already know versus what other questions they may have.
Amanda Fack
This book follows the daily life of a cat before and after Kristallnecht (The Night of Broken glass.) Accordingly, it is a sad book. This would be a good book for introducing young children to the Holocaust, because questions are sure to follow.[return]The illustrations by Josée Bisallon are lovely combinations of collage and digital montage.
Amianne Bailey
5th Grade Read-Aloud: Fantastic book to use as an example of historical fiction and introduce the Holocaust to upper-grade students. Even though the book lacks the emotional punch of some of the others in this genre, it still caused the kids to ask many questions and want to learn more. Would be a great book to use before research.
This fictionalized tale of Kristallnacht is told from the point of view of Benno, the cat. Benno befriends the families in an apartment building in Berlin, only to watch the lives of some families being torn apart by the Nazis while their friends and neighbors stand by and do nothing.

Appropriate for third grade and up.
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Meg Wiviott attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she majored in history, and earned a Master's degree in Education from Northwestern University. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Meg and her husband have two grown children and live in New Jersey. She is the author of the picture book BENNO AND THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS (Kar ...more
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