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Brundibar

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3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  395 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Based on a Czech opera that was performed 55 times by children in Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp, Brundibar is an odd, urgent little tale of a brother and sister who are desperately trying to get their hands on some milk for their sick mother. They race to the village center, only to discover that they need money to buy milk. Unfortunately, all the money in town seems ...more
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published October 30th 2003 by Hyperion Books for Children (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nicola Mansfield
Mar 02, 2012 Nicola Mansfield rated it it was amazing
Reason for Reading: I pick up Maurice Sendak books simply because I love his illustrations, though I prefer the non-monster stuff. When I got home and read the story behind this picture book I was greatly intrigued.

This book can be read on two levels. One simply read the cute, fun story about children winning over a bully to young children. There are a few frightening scenes and the story ends on an uncomfortable note but most children should get a shiver and a giggle from the story.

On the seco
...more
Connie
Apr 13, 2010 Connie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is going to be a bit of a complex review, so let's get on with it.

First, some backstory. Brundibar was an opera performed by the children of Theresienstadt concentration camp as a sop to show the Red Cross that they weren't being maltreated. Most of those children were later killed at Auschwitz.

It is clear from the illustrations that this book was not just inspired by the opera itself, but by the Holocaust. Or, no, not that it was *inspired* by the Holocaust, but that it's in tribute to th
...more
Julia
May 20, 2015 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This children’s opera that was performed at Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp, 55 times. It’s about two little children trying to raise money to buy milk for their sick mother. Brundibar is a bully of a street performer, who chases off all other performers. The children are helped by three talking animals and three hundred children.

I loved the additions of characters from other Maurice Sendak picture books.
I borrowed this from my public library.
Patricia
Nov 04, 2010 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I was just reminded about this book by hearing of the world's oldest Holocaust survivor, Alice, who is celebrating her 107th birthday this month. She was 41, my age now, when the war ended. Her son was in Theresienstadt with her and was one of the children singing this opera. It is a stark story with touches of magical realism. I love it and have loved reading it to my children.
Kathy Davie
A picture book for children based on a Czech opera which was performed by the children at Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp.

In 2005, Brundibar was nominated for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for Bilderbuch. And my guess is that German guilt over the concentration camps was a deciding factor.

My Take
I'll give it a "3" simply for the gorgeous illustrations, but the rest of the story? No. God knows I always seem to dislike prize-winning books.

When the doctor comes prancing in with that yellow
...more
Dominick
Feb 14, 2016 Dominick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on an opera written in 1938, performed by children in a Nazi concentration camp, and composed by a man who was killed in Auschwitz in 1944, this superficially light folk tale has a dark subtext indeed. Their mother being sick, a pair of children are sent to town to buy milk, but the bully Brundibar obstructs their ability to sing to earn money, until talking animals and a horde of other children band together to help them and drive the evil bully away. Maurice Sendak's art includes some of ...more
Melanie
Fabulous! Wonderful! Amazing! There aren't enough words in any language to describe this book!

Aninku and Pepicek, brother and sister, wake up one morning to find their mother gravely ill. They run for the doctor and the doctor says she needs mile. The children head into town to fetch milk. Along the way they encounter an ice cream seller and a baker, but they don't have any money. They realize this is a problem when the milk man says "No money, no milk." They have no idea where to obtain money.
...more
Sarah - Six Blue Marbles
I had never heard of Brundibar before my children’s literature class but I’m so glad I read it! Not only is it a cute story for children but it’s chilling historical significance is what makes the story fascinating.

Brundibar is a very easy read and very short. It’s easy to understand and follow the story and the illustrations are lovely! It’s innocent and everything a children’s story should be, with Aninku and Pepicek the protagonists who defeat the evil Brundibar with the help of all the littl
...more
Becca
Oct 11, 2008 Becca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, childrens
Beautiful and dark, and not necessarily meant for children... Full of crows, images of war-time Prague and foreboding.
Curtis Glenn Heath
Maurice Sendak was one of my childhood favorites, and this one touches home for anyone who has holocaust survivors in their family.
Miriam
Jun 29, 2012 Miriam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture, theater
The history behind this story is touching, but as a book it doesn't really work. Maybe it would be better actually performed as an opera.
Heidi
Oh, my.

This is a beautiful book on both its levels. On the level of the story, and then on the level of the background to the story.

Beautiful.
Libraryscat
As I took a trip through this beautifully illustrated children's version of Brundibar by Tony Kushner, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, I listened to an interview on PBS NOW between Sendak and Bill Moyer. Sendak went on to assist in the production of the opera in Chicago where he met one of the women who performed in the original production in the Nazi camp described in detail in the previously reviewed book, The Girls in Room 28.

The 2003 Brundibar is a retelling of the 1938 children's opera by Ha
...more
Linda Lipko
There is a very tragic story behind this book. Based on a Czech opera, set to music by a Hans Krasa.

As Nazi Germany and the evilness of Hitler and his henchmen were creeping and then running frantically to exterminate Jews, the opera Brundibar was performed by children of in the concentration camp of Terezin.

Used as propaganda, the play was performed 55 times.

Sadly, the composer Krasa was imprisoned in Terezin and later killed in 1944 in Auschwitz.

The book is written by the playwright Tony Kushn
...more
Marsha
Normally, I adore stories with Sendak illustrations. They feature the charm of children who never quite grow up and operate as free from the grown-up world as they can. But this one left me feeling rather sour. While the illustrations are a delight, I didn’t like the story at all.

The titular character is an organ grinder who plays for money. Two children take a dislike to him, apparently for no other reason than that people will play him for his tunes and will not pay them. In retaliation, they
...more
Jana
This story was originally written as a children's opera during World War II. According to the book jacket: "The book is based on a Czech opera of the same name ('Brundibar' is Czech slang for 'bumblebee'), with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, set to music by Hans Krasa. Completed in 1938, the opera was performed fifty-five times by the children of Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp. Krasa, who was Jewish, was also imprisoned in Terezin. He was killed in Auschwitz in 1944."

Maurice Sendak and T
...more
Anne
Jan 20, 2008 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-lit, 2008
I'm really curious to see the opera that this was based on. I think it's really interesting that Maurice Sendak is going back to working with other authors now, like he did when he first started illustrating. I don't know if that means anything, or if he is simply getting a lot of offers to work with people as fantastic as Tony Kushner.

The story is charming though I can really feel that I'm reading an adaptation of something that was originally much longer. The illustrations are much brighter t
...more
Amy
Nov 15, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this at a thrift store on the same day my sil told me she was planning a history tour to Europe for next summer to include a couple of the Nazi concentration camps. One of the camps she will visit is Terezin (Theresienstadt) in what is now the Czech Republic. Amazing coincidence since this is the same camp where children performed the opera on which this book is based. This is one of the most crushing stories of the Holocaust which I learned years ago from some PBS program. The children ...more
Mallory
Siblings Aninku and Pepick must help their sick mother by going to town to get some milk. Unfortunately the children have no money, so they decide to earn money by singing. This idea is unsuccessful because of a bully named Brundibar. In order to reg rid of Brundibar and earn money from milk, the two children must become allies with some very unusual characters. Only then can they get the milk that they so desperately need. This book, which is based on a Czech opera, is a great story about makin ...more
Louise Bendall
Jun 28, 2012 Louise Bendall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel
Ok, I understand that it is based on a Czech children's opera and was performed in concentration camps during WWII. I'm sure Brundibar is based on Hitler to some degree. That aside, it was still a confusing story. I loved Sendak's illustrations even if the story was a bit off. I loved how the baker was the same baker from "In the Night Kitchen". The children's second song didn't make any sense to me. The "very very very small cockroach who has nothing to do with the story, but was curious" and a ...more
srutherford81
Jul 12, 2007 srutherford81 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This play was originally performed in the Nazi concentration camps. It is very intersting from that point of view. It could be looked at as a satire of sorts. Watch the main character Brundibar carefully as you read.

The Nazi's would often make the children perform plays for their video propaganda, crafted to show the world that the children were being treated properly.

The illustrations in this book were done by the same guy who did "Where the Wild Things Are" (Marice Sendak).
Wynnie
Dec 26, 2009 Wynnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the books I read at the Maurice Sendak exhibition in the Comtemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. There is a story that the words tell, and there are also layered stories in the accompanying illustrations. Even for books that he illustrates and does not author, Sendak enhances the rich texture of the text. Most of his stories and illustrations deal with the horror of the holocaust.

This book is a call for children to arms against the caricatured Hitler.
Diana Polansky
Mar 12, 2007 Diana Polansky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The pictures are beautiful...and scary...and it is very close to the libretto to the opera...Czech out...um, I mean, check out the operetta rewritten in English by Kushner...performed a few years ago. It is a very compelling children's opera. I promise. Of course, an operetta originally performed by children of the concentration camp, Terezin, would have to be. But this operetta is still very relevant to children in times of war.
Kitty
Jun 01, 2012 Kitty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, how this book hurt my heart! My husband grabbed it at the library for our youngest daughter, who did not really like it (I guess the pictures weren't bright enough to hold the attention of a 3 year old) but is perfect for an older audience who can appreciate where this story comes from. It is beautiful, cleverly illustrated, just itching to be interpreted. Everyone should read this at least once.
Rachel
Jul 04, 2007 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
I love all the little details in this book - from the crucifix in the family's house that you don't see until the end, to the little cockroach who has nothing to do with this story, but was interested, to the little note from Brundibar at the very end about how things don't ever work out as neatly as the storybooks would have you think. The story behind this story is amazing, as well. Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak = great team!
Eva Leger
Aug 22, 2008 Eva Leger rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: julias-books
I got this book to read to my daughter based solely on the author and am not happy about it. I think it sucks to be honest. The wording is just a little off and the story itself is sorely lacking. It's a shame because I wanted to like it and love adding to my daughters collection of books but this won't be hanging around.
Lisa Macklem
Apr 22, 2016 Lisa Macklem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-lit
Beautifully illustrated seems like an understatement any time Sendak is involved. You'll want to examine the pictures closely for the underlying themes that won't be obvious to a child - the fact that this is a jewish ghetto during WWII for instance. A cautionary tale that both children and adults can appreciate.
Kathy Ellen Davis
Jan 02, 2013 Kathy Ellen Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
I love the sing-songy style of the text and how busy yet simple the illustrations are.
A fun story.

Favorite quote:
"People are for helping.
It's never hard to find help
its is only hard to know that it's time to ask."

Haiku Review:
We only want milk
To help our dear sick Mama.
We must find some help.
David
Feb 24, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brundibar is the name of the antagonist. I like the pictures. This is a very imaginative story. I would like to read it again if I get a chance. I would like to see this performed as the original opera. It's a little over the top as far as picture books go. I wonder what other readers have to say.
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Tony Kushner is an award-winning American playwright most famous for his play Angels in America, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He is also co-author, along with Eric Roth, of the screenplay of the 2005 film Munich, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and earned Kushner (along with Roth) an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
More about Tony Kushner...

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