While never an easy subject to discuss with children, the Holocaust is one of the most important. Benno and the Night of Broken Glass by Meg Wiviott and illustrated by Josee Bisaillon is the story of Kristallnacht, viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Holocaust.
Told through the eyes of a Berlin cat called Benno, the story unfolds as Benno goes about his daily and weekly routines of visits to the residents of this Jewish neighborhood. He’d stop by the Adlers, the Schmidts, Moshe the butcher, Frau Gerber, the grocer’s wife, Mitzi Stein’s dress shop and even Professor Goldfarb where he’d often curl up on his desk. Then came “a night like no other. The air filled with screams and shouts, sounds of shattering and splintering glass, and the bitter smell of smoke.”
In the days and nights that followed Kristallnacht and its horrible fires and violence against Jewish citizens, Benno witnessed fear and sorrow, heads held low. His neighbors and friends “went quietly about their business” but nothing was ever the same.
In an afterword, an explanation is given about the horrors of November 8, 1938 and what it meant in regards to the persecution of of Jews on a mass scale. There is also a helpful list of additional children’s books about the Holocaust you might like to consider for future reading