Meg Wiviott’s very first picture book is a powerful, true story. The setting is Rosenstrasse, a street in Berlin, Germany with quite a rich and tragic history during the Second World War. In this book, we follow Benno, a street cat who lives at Number 5 Rosenstrasse. This moving story tells about the events of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, through the eyes of this cat, as his life, as well as the lives of many others, is completely changed. When the men in heavy boots march through Rosenstrasse, burning books and destroying buildings, Benno realizes that nothing will ever be the same.
Josee Bisaillon’s collage, drawings, and digital montage techniques have blended perfectly in the illustrations. They provide a very unique look, while still making some attractive pictures. The colors are particularly arresting. One page can seamlessly blend happy, upbeat tones with darker, gloomier shades to create an interesting effect. The style really captures the emotions of this time period.
Perhaps the best aspect of this extraordinary book is the way it educates children about a very terrible, yet important time in history. At the very end of the story, Wiviott devotes a couple of pages to giving an accurate account of Kristallnacht, its effects, and how other nations reacted to the event at the time. This amazing picture book makes the history accessible to even the youngest of children. This is a book that children and parents alike absolutely must pick up.
Check the WRL catalog for Benno and the Night of Broken Glass.